The US is disappointed the Dutch authorities allowed firms, including Royal Dutch Shell, to help support the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, according to Washington’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra.
Dutch firms like Gasunie are participating in the €11-billion Russia to Germany gas pipeline.
Gasunie holds a 9-per-cent stake in the Nord Stream consortium for construction and operation of the Vyborg to Lubmin pipeline.
In charge is Russia’s Gazprom, the world’s largest natural-gas exporter,
“We are diasppointed … We have identified Nord Stream 2 as a threat to European security,” Hoekstra told the media in The Hague.
“We would have hoped that the Dutch government, with those companies themselves, would have decided that they would not participate in the construction of Nord Stream 2.”
The hardline approach to the pipeline echoed Monday’s comments by the hawkish secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, during a visit to the Netherlands.
“We in America simply hope that Europe will take seriously the need for a diversified, secure energy base, an energy base that isn’t tied to Russia,” Pompeo added.
“We know the history between Europe and Russia, and we know that in times of conflict the Russians will use whatever tools they have available to raise the costs for Europe to make decisions that are in its best interests, but perhaps not in the interests of Russia,” he told RTL Netherlands. “We hope Europe will get this right.”
Pompeo refused to say if sanctions would affect Dutch or German companies.
US opposition to the pipeline would have more integrity if Washington was not trying to sell its “freedom gas” to Europe at the same time.
Mark Menezes, the US undersecretary of energy, last week referred to “freedom gas” exports from the Freeport LNG terminal off the coast of Texas.
“Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy,” he said.
The odd use of “freedom gas” as a phrase has been repeated by other members of the Washington establishment, in reference to the extraction of fossil fuels through the environmentally ruinous process of fracking.
“With the US in another year of record-setting natural gas production, I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of US freedom to be exported to the world,” said Steven Winberg, assistant secretary for fossil energy.
“Seventy-five years after liberating Europe from Nazi Germany occupation, the United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent,” energy secretary Rick Perry told the media in May.
“And rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas.”
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week that she remained committed to the pipeline.
She told a Federation of German Industries (BDI) conference: “If we stop using nuclear and coal energy, we have to switch to using gas as a source of energy. This is why I have always said that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should be built.”
Merkel said her main concern was ensuring gas supplies still passed through Ukraine.
“I have always advocated the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in addition to transit through Ukraine,” the outgoing chancellor said.
There seems no end in sight in the Nord Stream 2 dispute. Picture credit: YouTube