MINSK, 11 November (BelTA) – It is still cheaper to transport Russian gas to Europe via Belarus, BelTA learned from Professor Mikhail Kovalev, Dean of the Economy Department of the Belarusian State University.
“I am convinced the commissioning of the Nord Stream will not affect Belarus because the country’s main gas pipeline Yamal-Europe is owned by Gazprom. It is the shortest and cheapest way to Europe. It has been used to pump gas and will be used to do it, including via the Beltransgaz grid because Gazprom owns half of the company,” said the expert.
He reminded that negotiations to sell the second half of OAO Beltransgaz shares were about to complete. “It is understandable that Gazprom will be interested in using its asset at full capacity,” said Mikhail Kovalev. At the same time the expert believes that Nord Stream may compete with gas transit via Ukraine. “But I think that Gazprom will just convince the Europeans to buy more gas. Both routes to Europe will be used,” he said.
Yet the expert believes that Nord Stream is “an insulting project” for the Belarusians. “We are part of the Union State, the Customs Union. Now we are urged to be together in the Eurasian Union. At the same time while we suggested building a second Yamal-Europe pipeline via Belarus, the Russians opted to bury money at the bottom of the Baltic Sea,” said Mikhail Kovalev.
He attributed it to the desire of the Russians to have an alternative way for gas transit. “On the other hand, it should be honestly recognized that Russia just loves expensive projects while Nord Stream is a very expensive projects with all the consequences the fact entails. Nobody tries to hide it in Russia today,” said the expert.
He believes that the Russians will change their minds regarding plans to build a second line of Nord Stream. “If Europe doesn’t have enough gas, it is necessary to build a second line of Yamal-Europe instead of Nord Stream or any other gas pipeline,” Mikhail Kovalev is convinced.
The first startup complex of the gas pipeline Nord Stream was commissioned on 8 November to export Russian natural gas to Europe. The pipe is 1,224km long and is located at the bottom of the Baltic Sea connecting Leningrad Oblast of Russia and Greifswald area of Germany.