Germany, Austria tell US not to interfere in EU energy

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Germany any and Austria condemned a proposed expansion of US sanctions on Russia, saying the measures sought to bolster US economic interests and included an unacceptable intervention in the region’s energy sector.

“Europe’s energy supply is a matter for Europe, not the United States,’’ German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said in a joint statement, World Oil reported. “Instruments for political sanctions should not be tied to economic interests.”

At the center of the criticism is the planned $10 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that, to some extent, would compete with US exports of liquefied natural gas to Europe.

The 1,220 kilometer link, designed to cut Russia’s reliance on gas transit through Ukraine, would double the capacity of an existing route to Europe’s biggest economy.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will have “detrimental impacts on the European Union’s energy security” and on reforms in Ukraine, according to an amendment added to a bill by the US Senate on Wednesday to tighten curbs against Russia.

The US will “continue to oppose the link,” according to the bill. The Senate passed the measure on Thursday.

Gabriel and Kern said they “can’t accept” proposed US sanctions targeting European energy companies as part of measures against Russia, according to the statement published Thursday.

The Senate’s move is a way for the US “to try to favor its own gas” in Europe, Isabelle Kocher, chief executive officer of Engie, France’s former gas monopoly, told reporters in Paris Thursday. “I don’t think at all that the United States can stop this project.”

Gazprom, which supplies about a third of the European Union’s gas, has shrugged off the prospect of US liquefied natural gas in Europe for years. While most analysts expected increased US-Russia gas rivalry last year, only a few cargoes from North America have reached southern Europe.

The Moscow-based exporter sees no impact from US curbs on its link. Nord Stream 2 is a European project, developed in partnership with European companies that had already provided over €1 billion in funding before the latest US bill was approved, according to Alexander Medvedev, the deputy chief executive officer of Gazprom.