Energy for Germany (II)

BERLIN/OSLO/MOSCOW | | norwegengrossbritannienrussische-foederation

BERLIN/OSLO/MOSCOW (Own report) - In Norway last week, the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, strengthened the position of Germany, in the struggle for Arctic energy resources. The enormous reserves, that are only beginning to be tapped, are very significant for the EU's future power supply, which is increasingly dependent upon Russian and German-Russian energy cooperation. Gazprom, the Russian state monoply company, is attempting, with German assistance, to attain a predominating role as power supplier for all of Europe. The looming control by Berlin and Moscow of the natural gas sector is causing increasing displeasure particularly in eastern EU states and Great Britain.


Natural gas has, in the meantime, become the German industry's second most important energy source and, by 2020, according to the prognoses of the Ministry of Economy, could become the basis for more than half of Germany's power production. At the same time, the dependence upon the importation of natural gas has constantly increased and is already at 83 percent. Russia, with 37 percent, is the main supplier, followed by Norway (25 percent) and the Netherlands (20 percent). The other EU states, who are currently still covering their natural gas requirements to 50 percent from their domestic reserves, will also see their dependence on imports increase. Western European fields are slowly running out. Therefore Russian providers are gaining in importance for the entire EU.[1] And Germany, largely unaffected by the change in government, through its energy cooperation with Russia,[2] but particularly through the cooperation of German enterprises with the Russian Gazprom monopoly, is taking on a key role in the future supply of European power. The further development of this position of power is a substantial aspect of the "Energy Summit" being held today in Berlin.[3]


It is particularly the pipeline, already in construction, which runs from Vyborg, Russia, 1,200 kilometers through the Baltic Sea to reach Greifswald (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), that fortifies the strong position of German enterprises in supplying the European natural gas.[4] The pipeline goes into service in 2010 and will supply not only Germany with natural gas, but also various other European states. A stir is being caused by an extremely unusual and moreover clandestinely authorized state endorsement of a billion Euros credit to the Russian Gazprom monopoly. The Deutsche Bank functions as a financial adviser to Gazprom. The exclusion of energy companies, such as Shell, Norsk Hydro or Statoil, that wanted to have a share in the project, is also cause for discord. The North European Gas Pipeline company (NEGP), which is responsible for the planning and construction of the pipeline, is owned by Gazprom to 51 percent and by the German energy giants, BASF and Eon 24.5 percent each. In Moscow, a few days ago, the three shareholders selected the supervisory board. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder takes over as Chairman of the Board.[5]


Unrest is being caused by the German-Russian special arrangements at the expense of several other European states. An important basis of raw materials for the planned new Baltic Sea natural gas pipeline, is the Siberian gas field Juschno Russkoye, whose reserves would suffice for satisfying Germany's consumption requirements for the next ten years. In order to obtain direct access to these gas reserves, the German energy enterprises, BASF and Eon agreed to support the Russian state's Gazprom, in its planned expansion onto the European gas market.[6]

Western Europe

BASF assured Gazprom of being allowed to augment the Russian share of the common joint venture, Wingas, from 35 to 49 percent. Wingas brings Russian natural gas onto the West European market and, already in 2002, had concluded a framework agreement with the Gazprom subsidiary, Gazexport, for the marketing of Russian natural gas in Belgium and Great Britain.[7] Above all Great Britain is fearing political consequences from the growing German-Russian influence. Since the 70s, the country had been self-sufficient through gas reserves from the North Sea, in the meantime, these reserves are running out, and the island will, in the future, become increasingly dependent upon gas imports. Gazprom is making good on its notification, that it intends to substantially expand into the British market and wants to take over Centrica, the largest British energy provider, which had evolved from the former monopoly, British Gas.[8]

Eastern Europe

Eon, the German energy giant, offered the Russian state company, the marketing department of the prominent Hungarian gas company, MOL, as well as an underground natural gas storage in Hungary, which caused unrest and annoyance in Budapest. In the meantime, the German company is even prepared to broaden its offer to include also in the German-Russian exchange, the subsidiaries in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia. To assuage reservations arising in the countries, that until 1989, had been standing under Moscow's predominance, the German company explains that it only intends to cede minority shares to Gazprom.[9] In fact the Russian monopoly is pushing particularly onto the Western European market and is therefore demanding shares in Eon's marketing companies in Western Europe.[10]


The German Foreign Minister could use the threat potential of the German-Russian energy cooperation during his recent visit to Norway. It was about the energy reserves in the Arctic. It is estimated that there, one-quarter of all, un-tapped reserves of oil and gas are to be found. Property rights are in dispute. Five states' borders meet In the Artic Ocean (Russia, Canada, Denmark, the USA and Norway). Expeditions of the countries concerned, are cartographically surveying the area, to be able to assess national claims as highly as possible.[11] Russia claims for itself about half of the Arctic Ocean, including the North Pole.

Gold Rush Mood

The top executives of German power providers are in Oslo in a "gold rush mood" [12] and swoon of the opportunities, opened to Germany by Russian and Norwegian claims on the Arctic. The German energy giant, RWE, received permission Friday, from the Norwegian government, to bore for gas in three areas of the Barents Sea. The German installation constructor, Linde, (Wiesbaden) is one of the most important manufacturers for the conveying engineering, with which Norway, beginning next year, would like to tap the precious gas reserves in the Arctic Ocean. It will be decided in mid-April, with which companies Russia intends to tap the "Shtokman" gas field in the northern Barents Sea. Geologists found enough natural gas there, to be sufficient to secure the German power supply of the next 25 years.


Above and beyond the participation of German enterprises, Foreign Minister Steinmeier now demands of Norway a right to have a say in the exploitation of Arctic energy reserves. The basis is the Russian drive for expansion, supported by Berlin, but feared by Oslo, which is why the Norwegian government now seeks German assistance. Energy policy is world politics - and Germany, with its deficiency in raw materials, is to participate at the desire of Norway, comments the influential daily, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "the former occupiers, the once hated Germans, are today the hope of the Norwegians who see themselves as being politically weak."[13]

[1] Abhängigkeit von russischem Erdgas wächst rasant; Die Welt 30.03.2006. Rußland ist der wichtigste Energielieferant; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 01.04.2006
[2] see also Maßgebliche Rolle
[3] see also Energie für Deutschland (I)
[4] see also Area of Natural Gas
[5] Gaspipeline entsteht im kleinen Kreis; Financial Times Deutschland 31.03.2006
[6] see also Östliche Achse
[7] see also A powerful presence in the British energy market
[8] Gazprom will britische Centrica übernehmen; Handelblatt 03.02.2006
[9] Gazprom setzt Eon unter Druck; Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.03.2006
[10] Europäischer Gasmarkt: Gazprom will Beteiligung ausweiten; Die Welt 30.03.2006. Eon will Russen von Ruhrgas fernhalten; Netzeitung 27.03.2006
[11] Nach der Seerechtskonvention der Vereinten Nationen bestimmt sich das Gebiet eines Staates danach, wie weit sein Festlandssockel in das Meer reicht; die Arktis ist jedoch weitgehend unvermessen.
[12], [13] Deutschland soll den eiskalten Krieg verhindern; Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung 02.04.2006