Beixi No. 2: The pipeline is completed and the road ahead is unpredictable

  On September 10, Gazprom (hereinafter referred to as Gazprom) announced that the laying of the Beixi No. 2 natural gas pipeline has been completed, and it is planned to be put into operation at the end of the year. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that Beixi 2 as a commercial project has caused too many geopolitical disputes and is still “faced with frontal attacks”, but even the United States cannot change the pipeline that will consume Siberian natural gas fields and Western Europe. A connected future. The first vice chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian Federation Council Jabarov said, “This is a major victory for Russia over the United States.” However, if you look back at the ups and downs that the project has experienced from incubation to completion, face up to the multi-party game that has not subsided around the pipeline operation, and look forward to the future development prospects of the European energy environment, or we can only say that the completion of the Beixi 2 pipeline is a multi-party temporary As a result of the compromise, its future prospects will still be restricted by a variety of complex factors.
  The completion of Beixi 2 depends on the compromise between the United States and Germany. Since the Beixi 2 project was brewing, the United States has always believed that this is a “geopolitical project” carried out by Russia, which will free Russia from dependence on Ukraine’s transit transportation and increase European demand for Russian natural gas, thereby enhancing European energy security and strategic security. risks of. At the end of 2019, Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020, which included sanctions on the construction parties involved in the Beixi No. 2 project. At the end of 2020 and early 2021, both houses of the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021, making sanctions on the Beixi No. 2 project into law. Trump’s actions aroused strong dissatisfaction and resistance from Germany. After Biden took office, he actively repaired the transatlantic alliance system, striving for European allies, especially Germany, to better cooperate with the global strategic adjustments of the United States, and announced an exemption from Germany and other European countries participating in the Beixi 2 project before his visit to Europe in May this year. Sanctions by national companies. The US State Department stated that this move is in line with the United States’ commitment to European energy and the need to rebuild friendly relations between the United States and the European Union.
  The completion of Beixi 2 is also due to Virtue’s commitment to Ukraine. In July of this year, the United States and Germany reached an agreement to jointly support Ukraine in maintaining its status as a natural gas transit country after 2024. Germany will try its best to promote the extension of the agreement between Russia and Ukraine for the transit of natural gas through Ukraine for ten years. On August 22, when Merkel visited Ukraine, she emphasized that Beixi 2 is a supplementary project and is not intended to replace the transit of Russian natural gas from Ukraine. She also promised Uzbek President Zelensky that after the change of the German government, it will continue to solve Ukraine’s energy security issues, and will also help Uzbekistan improve its energy structure and reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas.
  The completion of Beixi 2 is also the result of Russia’s compromise. In fact, in order to reduce the resistance encountered by Beixi 2, Russia signed a five-year agreement with Ukraine at the end of 2019 to continue supplying natural gas to the EU through Ukraine. The agreement stipulates that 65 billion cubic meters of natural gas will be transited in 2020 and 40 billion cubic meters will be transited annually from 2021 to 2024. At the same time, Gazprom also fulfilled the judgment of the Stockholm International Arbitration Court and paid US$2.9 billion in compensation to the Ukrainian State Oil and Gas Company. In Merkel’s “Farewell Journey” to Russia on August 20 this year, Putin once again emphasized the economic rationality and ecological safety of Beixi-2. At the same time, he also stated that Russia will abide by its commitment to maintain Ukraine’s status as a natural gas transit country. He is willing to extend the Russian-Uzbek natural gas transit agreement that will expire in 2024. He asked European countries to first give out the specific amount of natural gas to be purchased through Ukraine.
  After a fierce multi-party game, the pipeline construction of Beixi No. 2 was finally completed. But its future prospects will still be troubled by a series of factors.
  First, pipeline operations are subject to the constraints of European energy laws. The EU’s “third energy package” requires that companies producing, transporting and distributing natural gas in the EU should be independent of each other, aiming to ensure fair competition in the market and prevent companies from preventing competitors from using their infrastructure. On August 25 this year, a German court dismissed Gazprom’s lawsuit against the German gas industry regulator and ruled that Beixi 2 must comply with the EU’s “third energy package”. This also means that the part of Beixi 2 entering the EU in the future must have a third party involved in the operation.
  Secondly, the US and European sanctions are still the “Sword of Damocles” hanging over the project. The pipeline system of Beixi No. 2 is approximately 2,000 kilometers shorter than the natural gas pipeline system transiting Ukraine. The technology is more advanced and constructed in accordance with modern ecological standards. However, it is recognized as a “geopolitical project” by the United States and Europe. May become the target of sanctions.
  Third, the energy revolution and environmental constraints will also pose challenges to the operation of Beixi No.2. The EU has put forward the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and has clarified specific paths such as strengthening the carbon emission trading system, developing clean energy, and creating green buildings. Although Russia has proposed the idea of ​​accelerating the development of hydrogen energy and exporting it to Europe through the Beixi No. 2 pipeline, actual difficulties will make this transition process not so easy.