This section encompasses a wide range of GVC related information:
- "Interview" covers both face-to-face interviews and quotations in third party articles.
- "Publications" includes articles, papers and studies.
Berlin/Friedrichskoog, March 2021
Wolfgang was interviewed for and quoted in an article titled ‘Der Gasmann aus dem Koog’ (‘The gas man from the polder’), by Stefan Carl, a German journalist of the Boyens Medien GmbH, online available at https://www.boyens-medien.de/artikel/lokales/der-gasmann-aus-dem-koog-374697.html.
Cause for the article was Wolfgang’s return to Dithmarschen in North-Germany, where he was born and raised. Inevitably though, also energy-related questions were raised:
As to the debate about Nord Stream 2, Wolfgang explains that e.g. a construction stop would hurt the western companies and subcontractors and thus hit the wrong targets. In contrast, Russia could book more transit through the aged Ukrainian system and continue deliveries unabated. The real loser would be the climate.
He also points out that the fixation on gas is entirely irrational. If one really wanted to ‘punish’ Russia, an embargo of Russian crude oil, imported by Europe and also the U.S. in large quantities, would affect the Russian budget up to five times more than the loss of gas revenues.
Asked about the plans to build an LNG terminal at the nearby Brunsbüttel port, Wolfgang explains that, since there is meanwhile a transnational wholesale traded gas market, a terminal for the physical arrival of LNG in Germany is not really necessary. However, Brunsbüttel is a ‘hot spot’ for LNG bunkering. Some 30.000 ships are passing each year through the Kiel Kanal between the North-Sea and the Baltic-Sea and another 3.000 to 4.000 ships per year up and down the river Elbe towards Hamburg.
Bunker-fuel is increasingly banned in various ports and demand for LNG as a substitute fuel is rising. Presently, trucks are deployed loading LNG at the Rotterdam Gate terminal and transporting it to Hamburg and Brunsbüttel to provide LNG bunkering services. Erecting an LNG terminal providing such LNG bunker services directly at Brunsbüttel port makes a lot of sense.
Berlin/Friedrichskoog, March 2021
Wolfgang was invited to deliver a podcast recorded by the ‘Deutsch-Russische Außenhandelskammer’ (German-Russian Chamber of Commerce, ‘AHK’) titled ‘Nord Stream 2 – Energiewirtschaftliche Fakten’ (‘Nord Stream 2 – Energy Economic Facts’). The podcast (in German language) can be accessed via the following link: https://russland.ahk.de/infothek/podcast-zaren-daten-fakten.
The recent GVC publications ‚ Nord Stream 2 caught between politicization, hypocrisy and ignorance: a few inconvenient truths‘ ( https://gasvaluechain.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-04-28-GVC-Paper-Nord-Stream-2-Hypocrisy.pdf ) and ‘UOKiK NS2 Decision: ‘Alternative Facts’ & ‘Sanctimonious Hypocrisy – UOKiK should clean up the foreclosed Polish market in front of its own doorsteps instead of acting ‘Headmaster’ for the EU’ ( https://gasvaluechain.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2020-12-14-GVC_Paper_UOKiK_Alternative_Facts__Sanctimonious_Hypocrisy.pdf ) had caught the attention of the AHK and caused them to invite Wolfgang for this podcast.
For non-German speakers, content and thrust of the podcast are summarized in some detail in English below: Read more
First, Wolfgang translated the titles of the papers and gave a brief explanation of content and thrust. Thereafter, the entire energy space and the aspirations of decarbonization were discussed, emphasizing the relevance of gas for a successful decarbonization and the beneficial role therein of Nord Stream 2:
- The frequent proclamation of the ever rising share of renewables in the power sector is misleading. Namely, the power sector comprises only 20% of Germany’s primary energy demand. E.g. the transport sector features ~30 % and the heat sector ~40. Oil products, predominantly serving the transport and the heat sector, remained, between 1990 and 2019, stable at 35%. Hard coal shrunk from 15% to 9% and lignite from 21% to 9% also. Renewables rose from 1% in 1990 to 15% in 2019, of which, however, wind power comprises only 3.1 % and solar 1.3%. In contrast, gas has risen since 1990 from 15% to 25%.
- The thus far achieved CO2 reductions since 1990 are presented in misleading fashion. The decline in the early 90ies was mainly due to structural reforms in East-Germany. Since the enactment of the German renewables law in 2000, CO2 emission reductions were, apart from the power sector, negligible. The accelerated deployment of gas e.g. in the heat sector and in the transport sector would, similar to the power sector, significantly reduce CO2 emissions.
- Gas fired power generation achives substantial CO2 emission reductions vs. coal and lignite. Moreover, gas is needed in the power sector for three reasons: (i) To achieve a stable frequency in the power grids in the face of non-dispatchable, oscillating wind and solar power, (ii) to step in the breach in the event of ‘Kalte Dunkelflaute’ (i.e. cold, no wind, no sun – like we saw in February 2021), (iii) ramp-up to cover power peak demand, exacerbated by further peak demand from heat pumps and e-mobility (you cannot ramp-up wind and sun).
- The fossil nature of gas will over time converge towards non-fossil gas. There is a clear correlation between the degree of decarbonization and the composition of gaseous molecules. Besides biogas and synthetic gas, it would be hydrogen. Both Norway and Russia are seriously engaged to develop hydrogen from methane.
- A serious ramp-up of a hydrogen economy with respective cost degression cannot be achieved with ‘green’ hydrogen. E.g. the utilization of an electrolyzer fed by German surplus onshore wind power would only be about 4.5%. Imports from e.g. North-Africa will be problematic, since cannibalizing the scarce sweet water supplies in the region. Hence, the efforts of both Norway and Russia concerning hydrogen, no matter what the ‘color’, should be appreciated.
- With regard to gas imports physically arriving in Germany one must keep in mind that there is no ‘German gas market’ any more. Rather, especially Northwest-Europe features a trans-national wholesale traded market behaving like a single price zone. The TTF serves as price benchmark also beyond Northwest-Europe and even globally.
- As to Russian imports, it becomes obvious that Nord Stream 2 is not a German, but rather a European project. NS1 and NS2 deliver 110 bcm/a, i.e. more than Germany, which also receives e.g. Norwegian and Dutch supplies, consumes.
- The alleged dependency on Russia is ‚yesterday’s news’. (i) The price level of the European wholesale traded market would, in the event of a supply curtailment, rise and thus send out a ‘price signal’. (ii) The sellers of meanwhile >500 bcm/a of destination-free or –flexible LNG, continuously monitoring the price spread between Europe and Asia, would direct – or even re-direct – LNG ships to Europe with a response time of ~ 3 days. (iii) Europe avails of ~220 bcm/ of re-gas capacity and could thus easily absorb such substitute supplies.
- The powerful, deep and liquid European wholesale traded market renders any importer a ‘price-taker’. This is also the case for Gazprom: its long-term agreements are mostly hub-indexed and its sale of various traded products by auction match TTF price levels.
- The Ukrainian gas crisis cannot repeat itself. This was also confirmed by the severe stress-test scenarios of ENTSOG.
- The focus of NS2 critics on gas is entirely irrational. Crude oil, imported from Russia in large quantities, also by the U.S., is up to five times more valuable in the Russian budget.
- NS2 is very important for Russia for positioning Russian gas in the full value chain emissions context in the face of looming European regulation, where NS2 comes out ‘best in class’. Moreover, NS2 is capable of carrying hydrogen.
- Less transit through Ukraine would mean less transit fees, but these are less than 3% of the Ukrainian national budget.
- Ukraine would not be exposed to increased Russian aggression just because of less or no gas transit. Also the ‘Druzhba’ pipeline is transiting the Ukraine, which carries large quantities of the much more valuable Russian crude oil.
- The so-called Baltic pipe to Poland is not an ‘alternative’ to Nord Stream 2, but rather a farce. The 10 bcm/a of Norwegian gas have thus far travelled to Germany and are – unnecessarily – diverted towards Poland at huge costs, subsidized with triple-million Euros of European taxpayers’ money. An entry Dornum/exit Mallnow booking would have achieved the same result for a few Eurocents.
- A construction stop of NS2 would hit the wrong targets, namely the Western companies and a multitude of subcontractors. Moreover, damage claims in the magnitude of billions of Euros are possible. Another loser would be the climate: Russia could book more transit via the aged Ukrainian system and continue supplies to Europe with much higher emissions.
- The absence of NS2 supplies competing in the European traded markets would necessitate higher LNG imports in permanent competition with Asia at respectively elevated European price levels. The ewi institute calculated the welfare loss for European consumers in the ‘high LNG demand’ case at 24.4 billion Euros. GVC assumes an on average 3.3 $/MMBtu higher European price level to attract global LNG, which would cause a welfare loss of even 50 billion Euros. Europe should rather continue to enable pipeline and LNG supplier competition, which keeps prices low.
The new U.S. administration features Mr. Anthony Blinken as secretary of state. He wrote a book about sanctions of the Reagan administration against the first German-Russian gas supply deal in the early 80ies. Apparently, potential compromises to ‘settle’ the transatlantic NS2 dispute are being contemplated. While, however, at the time the transatlantic partners had am ‘honest difference of opinion’ about how to reduce the dependency on Middle-East oil after two oil price shocks in the 70ies, the situation today is entirely different. The current U.S. sanctions are nothing less than a camouflaged marketing campaign for U.S. LNG. This should severely limit the preparedness of the German government to accept compromises. Particularly the discussed ‘snap-back’ mechanism – in reality a discriminatory ‘mini-embargo’ – should be entirely unacceptable. Even the amended Third Energy Directive, a discriminatory ‘Lex NS2’ since specifically directed at this project alone, does not cater for an on and off mechanism of an individual European import pipeline.
Berlin/Friedrichskoog, March 2021
Wolfgang was interviewed for and quoted in an article titled ‘Nord Stream 2: Kommt jetzt der Abschaltmechanismus?’ (Nord Stream 2: Is the ‘snap-back’ mechanism imminent?’), by Jan Emendörfer, a German journalist of RND (RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland), online available at https://www.rnd.de/politik/nord-stream-2-kommt-jetzt-der-abschaltmechanismus-PH344U2GCZE5FDEH6WHHS7FSDA.html?outputType=amp and published in a multitude of German newspapers. The article picks up on the much discussed so-called ‘snap-back’ mechanism, apparently considered by the U.S. administration and also contemplated by German politicians. The author expresses doubts whether such could work in a trans-European pipeline grid with supply contracts and supply- as well as off-take obligations. Hence, there was not really ‘much love’ for the idea.
The German MP Wadephul quoted in the article hits the nail on the head by pointing out that such decision could only be taken at European level, i.e. he recognizes the snap-back’ as what it really is: a ‘mini-embargo’ on Russian gas imports.
Wolfgang qualified the snap-back idea as an illegal ‘cloud cuckoo land’ dream. The European Third Energy Directive has already been amended in questionable fashion since only affecting Nord Stream 2 and thus a discriminatory ‘Lex NS2’. Even ‘Lex NS2’ does not cater for imposing a regime, under which the operations of an individual import pipeline can be turned on and off.
Wolfgang is further quoted on an aspect completely ignored in the at times irrational debate: That the real loser would be the climate. The aged Ukrainian transit system suffers from decades of neglect and corruption and emits large quantities of CO2 (outdated and not maintained compressors) and methane (leaky pipes and valves). In contrast, Nord Stream 2 is a modern, state of the art pipeline with minimal CO2 emissions along the entire value chain.
Berlin/Friedrichskoog, February 2021
Wolfgang was interviewed for and quoted in an article titled ‘Letzte Chance für Nord Stream 2 – Berlin und Washington ringen um einen Kompromiss, um die Ostsee-Pipeline doch noch möglich zu machen. Vier Optionen liegen auf dem Tisch.’ (‘Last Chance for Nord Stream 2 – Berlin & Washington explore a compromise in order to see the Baltic-Pipeline completed after all. Four options are on the table.’), by Klaus Stratmann, a German journalist of the leading German business newspaper Handelsblatt.
The article picks up on a report to Congress by Anthony Blinken, secretary of state under the new U.S. administration. The report does not increase the pressure but only mentions 18 companies which have already left the project to avoid U.S. sanctions. While disappointing NS2 opponents of the pipeline, supporters felt encouraged that a face-saving compromise might be possible after all. The article explains and discusses various ‘options’ presently being contemplated, i.a. a so-called ‘snap-back’ mechanism or a temporary construction stop.
Wolfgang explained that already the point of departure, namely alleged dependency on Russia, was false. Thanks to a global gas market with an abundance of destination-flexible LNG responding to price signals and redundant European pipeline- and LNG infrastructure, Europe’s security of gas supply was ascertained even in the event that Russian supplies were, for whatever reason, curtailed.
As to the ‘snap-back’ mechanism, Wolfgang recalled that the European Third Energy Directive had been amended to capture also import pipelines from outside the EU in questionable fashion. Since only affecting Nord Stream2, the amendment is essentially a discriminatory ‘Lex NS2’. Even the ‘Lex NS2’ does not, however, cater for imposing a regime, under which the operations of an individual import pipeline can be turned on and off.
In reality, the ‘snap-back’ mechanism would be nothing less than a ‘mini-embargo’.
If one really felt the urgent need to ‘punish’ Russia (such that it hurts), it would thus not have to be a construction stop or a moratorium, but a European import embargo on large quantities of Russian gas. Ideally, such embargo should be imposed at places, where collateral damage of transit countries (Belarus, Poland, Ukraine) is avoided: Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2.
Ironically, those who cry the loudest to ‘punish’ Russia, should be the ones pushing hard to have the pipeline completed asap: It would increase the ’leverage’ from 55 bcm/a to 110 bcm/a.
If a gas embargo were imposed, European security of supply would not be affected. But wholesale traded gas market prices would go through the roof. This, however, would allow the purchase of respective quantities of LNG in competition with Asia.
The elevated wholesale traded gas market prices caused by an embargo on Russian gas would have to be borne by the European consumers. On an annual basis this could easily be double digit billions of Euros.
As to a construction stop, Wolfgang explained that Nord Stream 2 as such is only a piece of steel pipe. What matters is the gas that it is carrying. The politicians who so loudly clamor for ‘punishment’ of Russia by stopping completion of the pipeline, conveniently ignore that Russia could book additional transit in Ukraine and continue gas deliveries as before. While also Gazprom would have to write-off its share of the investment, it would not incur a loss of gas revenues. In contrast, the Western companies would incur a non-recoverable write-off loss (almost a billion Euros each), not to speak of the losses incurred by multiple sub-contractors.
Berlin/Friedrichskoog, January 2021
Wolfgang was interviewed for and quoted in an article eventually titled ‘Baltic Pipe – die nächste Ostseeröhre kommt bestimmt’ (Baltic Pipe – the next Baltic Sea pipe will come for sure), by Jan Emendörfer, a German journalist of RND (RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland), online available at https://www.rnd.de/politik/polen-baltic-pipe-die-nachste-ostsee-pipeline-kommt-bestimmt-2P3NQNK37NAUJONPBVTHC7U2CE.html and published in a multitude of German newspapers. The article picks up on the somewhat astonishing circumstance that Nord Stream 2 is making the news almost daily while the Baltic Pipe appears to be progressing ‘under the radar’. Wolfgang explained that the Baltic Pipe is a 10 bcm/a tee-off of the existing Norwegian Europipe II beaching at Dornum, Germany. After ‘punching a hole’ into the fully utilized Europipe II offshore the Danish coast west of the Jütland peninsula, the Baltic Pipe comes out of the North-Sea, crossing the Jütland peninsula, then into the Baltic Sea towards and across the island Fünen (where a compressor station is erected), thereafter once more into the Baltic Sea towards and across the island Zeeland, and thereafter once more into the Baltic Sea towards the Polish coast. Wolfgang had recommended to title the article ‘Baltic Pipe – a veritable alternative to Nordstream 2 or just a farce?’ where the latter would have been the conclusion of the article. While the proposed title got ‘lost’, thrust (and conclusion) of the article remained: the Baltic Pipe is a farce. Read moreThe Baltic Pipe is only diverting a portion (10 bcm/a) of an already existing gas stream, flowing from Norway to Germany, towards Poland. In contrast, Nord Stream 2 delivers 55 bcm/a thus enhancing European security of supply. Wolfgang pointed out that the environmental impact is essentially the same irrespective of the pipeline size. He reiterated that the Baltic Pipe project is grossly uneconomical. Not only are the economies of scale of a ‘small’ pipeline inferior to those of a large project, thereby increasing the per unit transport costs. Most disturbing however is the fact that the same result could have been achieved by booking entry at Dornum (into the Gaspool hub) and (simultaneous) exit at Frankfurt a.d. Oder/Mallnow for a few cents/MWh, instead of investing >€ 2 billion. The Polish project is thus entirely political, hinging on ‘ideological physicality’ and an alledged but not existing dependency on Russian gas supplies. It is borderline scandalous that the EC fell for the Polish misrepresentations and supports it with triple digit million Euros of taxpayers’ money. Also ‘Zukunft Gas’ stated that the Baltic Pipe would not add to European security of supply and that stronger integration of the Polish market was, not least since large amounts of taxpayers’ money were granted, ‘desirable’. Wolfgang re-iterated his earlier observation that Poland’s aspiration to become a pivotal hub for its eastern neighbors is not a good idea. While Poland (and others) frequently claim that Nord Stream 2 is ‘dividing’ Europe, it is Poland which is divisive: ‘Shutting off to the West and creaming off to the East’ by imposing grossly elevated Polish wholesale gas price levels on its neighbors and depriving them of the benefits of the transnational Northwest-European traded wholesale market is the most divisive behavior one can think of.
London/Friedrichskoog, January 2021
Wolfgang was interviewed for and quoted in an article titled ‘Fortuna favors the bold’ by Diane Pallardy, an energy expert from ICIS, published in ICIS Gas In Focus (GIF 28.02 of 29 January 2021), the leading gas industry report with an established audience of executives, analysts and traders since 1994.
The article analyzes the resumption of pipe-laying for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline by the ‘Fortuna’, after the project had, albeit 94% completed, been stalled by U.S. sanctions. A particular focus is put on the creation of a foundation by the German state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, aiming to shield municipal as well as private entities from the wrath of illegal U.S. sanctions and individual threats (‘fatal consequences’) e.g. by U.S. senator Ted Cruz to the port of Sassnitz and others, clearly constituting an act of criminal blackmail.
Wolfgang emphasized that the American interference in European energy autonomy in violation of international law was intolerable and so was the inaction of both the German Federal Government and the European Commission. He gave credence to the courageous Ms. Schwesig, governor of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, as the only one taking counteraction. Hence the title: ‘Fortuna favors the bold’.
Friedrichskoog, December 2020 | Paper by ‘The Gas Value Chain Company GmbH’: ‘UOKiK NS2 Decision: ‘Alternative Facts’ & ‘Sanctimonious Hypocrisy’- UOKiK should clean up the foreclosed Polish market in front of its own doorsteps instead of acting ‘Headmaster’ for the EU’.
The paper analyzes the decision of the Polish ‘Office of Competition and Consumer Protection’ (‘UOKiK’) of 6 October 2020 imposing exorbitant fines on Gazprom and five Western Companies in conjunction with the Nord Stream 2 project. The market facts on which the decision is based are false without exception. Since it is hard to believe that a competition authority is unaware of the true state of the markets, they are qualified as ‘alternative facts’ brought forward to spread politically motivated ‘fake news’.
The ‘alternative facts’ are presented in ‘sanctimonious hypocrisy’ fashion (“… it is astounding that Western Companies fail to understand…”).
While the description of the European gas markets, meanwhile embedded in a global gas market, is simply wrong, the depiction of the Polish gas market is misleadingly false. Poland continues to obstruct integration of its gas market into the Single European Gas Market by multiple ‘non-physical entry barriers’ including anti-competitive practices such as e.g. ‘predatory pricing’. Instead of assuming the role of ‘headmaster’ for the European Union, the UOKiK would thus be better advised to clean up the foreclosed Polish gas market in front of its own doorsteps.
Perhaps most unsettling is the UOKiK’s claim that NS2 is ‘dividing’ Europe. In reality it is Poland working hard to ‘divide’ Europe: By locking up its market to the Northwest-European transnational market and aspiring to become a ‘pivotal hub’ – at the elevated price level prevailing on the Polish market – for its eastern neighbors, it is preventing its eastern neighbors from becoming part of the (almost completed) ‘European Henry Hub’. What else can be more divisive?
The paper has also been published in ‘Natural Gas World’: (https://www.naturalgasworld.com/uokik-ns2-decision-alternative-facts-and-sanctimonious-hypocrisy-ggp-84051).