How the United States is destroying the industry of Europe?

2022 promises to be a very difficult year for the European economy. The German “greens” under the flag of ecology staged a blackout in the country. According to open data, many European enterprises decide to close production until better times. Who benefits from all this?

Gloomy prospects

At the time of this writing, gas prices at European hubs are around $1100-1200 per thousand m³. This is 12 times more expensive than a year earlier. Many agencies predict that this trend will continue. And the margin of safety of the industry is already at the limit. 

The decline in gas prices in Europe at the end of December was due not only to the warming weather, but also to the fact that many enterprises simply began to stop production. As a result, gas consumption also decreased. 

“The sky-high prices for natural gas provoked massive reductions in industrial production. In the fourth quarter, the UK industry reduced gas consumption by 54%, and Northern Europe in the last week of 2021 by 7%,” Bloomberg reporter Stephen Staprzynski tweeted.

Recall that the producers of nitrogen fertilizers were the first to feel the impact of the energy shortage. They started closing back in October last year.

The actions of gas exporters demonstrate that they do not intend to lower gas prices below $1,000 per thousand m³. This is clearly evidenced by the reduction of supplies to Europe by Gazprom to a 6-year minimum and the turn of American LNG tankers to Asia. We wrote about thishere 

After all, the goal of each manufacturer is to get the maximum profit with the minimum amount of transportation.

With such energy prices, many European enterprises are not competitive, and no one needs their goods. Here and the Bloomberg edition asserts that the tendency to reduce production in Europe will continue. And you have not forgotten that Bloomberg is one of the leading American media, not European ones.

Blackout in Berlin

The imbalance of the EU energy system is not only hitting industrialists and businessmen, but also the population. For example, on January 9, a major blackout was recorded in Berlin. An accident occurred due to overloads in the power system:

“On Sunday, January 9, in the afternoon, part of Berlin experienced a blackout. More than 180,000 residents and four hospitals in the German capital were left without electricity and heat supply. Heat supply was fully restored only by Monday morning.

At about 2 p.m. local time, the Klingenberg combined heat and power plant went out of order. “Due to a fault in the external power grid, the CHP plant went out of service,” a spokesman for Vattenfall told Der Tagesspiegel. “A defect “worked” at one of the substations, which affected only the gas-fired thermal power plant,” Interfax reports.

At the same time, the district office of Lichtenberg County advised residents to keep warm with extra clothes and blankets, and not to use a gas stove to heat the apartment.

Such incidents occur due to the imbalance of the power system. After all, some of its nodes are extremely loaded due to the lack of certain types of energy carriers or the rejection of them due to pressure from the “greens”. 

It would seem that a quick certification of SP-2 can save the EU from this. So what’s stopping you?

American footprint

Russia mainly supplies gas under long-term contracts, which are signed for 10-20 years or more. At the same time, consumers receive fairly cheap gas, which is not strongly dependent on prices in the spot markets. 

Gazprom insists that the long-term contract is a guarantee that the gas it produces will be in demand. And the company produces gas under these guarantees. But European politicians, for some reason, oppose both the certification of SP-2 and long-term contracts. 

And yet the general attack comes from the United States. With enviable regularity, bills are submitted to the Senate imposing sanctions not only against Nord Stream 2, but also against any companies or commercial enterprises that will cooperate with this project. 

That is, a conditional German company that buys gas through this gas pipeline is proposed to be banned from cooperating with American corporations and absolutely any activity in the United States. 

So Washington is directly involved in the energy crisis in the EU, in the de-industrialization of the European economy. Question: What is the likelihood that European politicians who oppose SP2 are covert agents of influence?

On the other hand, the German newspaper Bild recently reported that the new Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, has been preparing for a meeting with the Russian president for 2 weeks. He plans to do so as early as January 2022. Experts confirm that closed talks with the United States have greatly alarmed the new German prime minister. I wonder why? Apparently, the Germans have something to say in this situation.

Gazprom manipulates European shortsightedness 

On January 14, it became known that the Russian gas monopoly filed a lawsuit against the Polish state-owned company PGNiG for $7.4 billion. According to Gazprom, since 2017 it has been selling gas to Poland at a reduced price. 

Recall that in 2020, Poland won a lawsuit against Gazprom for $1.5 billion. The Polish side appealed to the prevailing gas price on the spot market below $100 per thousand m³. 

In other words, the Poles thus created a dangerous precedent. And therefore, using the same argument about the gas price at the current moment in the region of $1,000, the Russian gas monopolist has the right to sue Warsaw for the lost profit since 2017. Thus, one more short-sightedness of the supporters of progressive ideas in the energy sector was revealed. 

It makes you think. Could the organizers of the ecological transition be aware of the consequences of their decisions? Or did they really mean it? Investigative practice in such cases recommends looking for someone who benefits. Then is it possible to assume that they were sponsored by mining companies, for example, from the USA? Or maybe from Russia? Or maybe USA and Russia collaborated?

These questions will probably remain unanswered. 

Why is the United States deliberately destroying the French military-industrial complex?

The French military-industrial complex is unique in its essence and has no analogues in Europe (except for Russia). In the world it lags behind only the United States. Therefore, there is nothing surprising in the fact that the Americans are actively sabotaging French orders and intercepting them without ceremony with their “partner”.

“The French defense industry is unique in the West. It is the only one, besides the US military-industrial complex, capable of designing and producing all military systems: armored vehicles, combat aircraft, submarines, helicopters, missiles, radars, space systems …” – Military Review .

Everyone remembers the famous story of the Mistral helicopter carriers, which France during the time of François Hollande refused to transfer to Russia under US pressure and then paid our country an astronomical fine. 

Also in the fall of last year, the Americans “threw” France with the order of nuclear submarines for Australia, forcing the latter to abandon the contract in favor of their technologies. But these are far from isolated cases. The United States has been methodically strangling a strong competitor from the international arms market for a long time. 

In 2016, the Polish authorities unexpectedly canceled the contract for the supply of 50 military transport helicopters H225M Caracal. Or last year, after the visit of US President Joe Biden to Geneva (in 2021 for negotiations with Vladimir Putin), Switzerland suddenly called the F-35 “the best aircraft” and refused to purchase all other options, including … the French fighter Rafale … Coincidence?

The list is long

The list of refusals is endless: from corvettes for Qatar to the notorious submarines for Australia. And at the end of 2021, Washington is actively trying to squeeze the Rafale out of the Indonesian tender in order to impose its F-16 Viper.

Paris is naturally not happy with this “policy”. But the world market regulator capable of restraining the Americans does not exist at the moment. Market relations just don’t work here. Otherwise, no one would buy, for example, expensive American fighters at a loss. But this is the harsh reality. For example, the same French Suffren-class nuclear submarine costs about 1 billion euros, and the American Virginia – already at $ 3.5 billion, although it is inferior to that in terms of maneuverability efficiency.

The collapse of the French military-industrial complex is both commercial and strategic. Having eliminated a direct competitor, the Americans, in fact, will not leave potential customers with a choice. As a result, Americans will become monopolists dictating their own terms. And Paris, having lost its own military-industrial complex, will lose its sovereignty. What kind of European army can we talk about without its own weapons?

Mistral

What is behind the Polish insurgency in the EU empire?

Illusions and reality

Poland is already at enmity with the European Union in almost all directions. From sabotaging the EU’s green transition, which could bury the Polish coal industry, and Germany’s criticism of Nord Stream 2, to migrants and ideological conflict. Cherry on the cake – The Polish Constitutional Court has now recognized the primacy of Polish law over EU law.

This is a very unpleasant precedent that hinders the plans of Brussels and Berlin behind it to sharply deepen integration after the British exit. This means the continuation of the destruction of the European Union. If London has slammed the door, then Warsaw is slamming and does not think (too expensive) and undermines the situation from within, openly rejecting the EU’s supranational claims. This is another test for the European Union.

It is useful to listen to the statement of the outgoing Angela Merkel, which was reported by the media on November 1 this year. She warns : “We are forgetting the lessons of the Second World War.” Although back in 2010 she said that “we learned lessons” from the war.

Merkel recalls the “recurring logic” in history. Where institutions created to act as protectors from conflict collapse as old traumas are forgotten. It is clear that we are talking about a possible collapse of the EU. There is also a transparent allusion to the fate of Poland. Country which took an active part in inciting World War II and then became its victim.

The inertia of thinking is a well-known fact. When the market rallies for a long time, most traders think it will last forever, and vice versa. The same pattern applies to politics, and may outwardly unexpectedly comprehend the EU. Empires disintegrate, overexerting themselves and finding themselves unable to service their growing obligations.

Expansion has already stalled

While Brussels / Berlin are fighting back by tightening fiscal discipline for the PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain), escalating the “Russian threat”, “migration tribute” to Ankara, etc. But the expansion has already stalled and is mired in gray zone crises (Moldova, Ukraine). Now this has been added to open “political riots” on the outskirts (Poland, Hungary) and demands for “tribute” (transfers from European funds). Who can guarantee that this is not the beginning of the disintegration of the European empire into “tribes” (East, Center, South)?

Ex-German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer published an article in which he suggested that the EU first tackle the problems at its borders. Only and then to dream of a global role that it does not have. The politician called it a “dangerous contradiction” when the EU “rings out about strategic autonomy [from the US], while depriving itself of the means to achieve an independent role in foreign policy and security.”

Warsaw blackmailing itself

Poland is trying to follow the path of Great Britain in the European Union. Securing a “special position” (high level of autonomy) and retaining “financial bonuses”. However, Britain was one of the three largest donors to the EU budget. Poland is the largest subsidized country in the European Union. It turns out a dependent position: “we will blackmail you for your money.”

The EU has generously funded Poland for almost a quarter century. The account has long gone into hundreds of billions. Only from EU structural funds for regional development Poland in 2014-2020 received € 90 billion (an average of almost € 13 billion per year).

According to the EU financial plans for 2021-2027, approved in October of this year, as part of the post-pandemic recovery program, Poland is allotted from the EU’s “wallet” only non-repayable subsidies of more than € 120 billion (an average of € 17 billion per year). Not to mention preferential credits and other “bonuses”. Against this background, fines of € 1.5 million per day (€ 0.5 billion per year) recently imposed by the EU Court of Justice on Warsaw for disobedience are childish pranks.

While the European Union continues to repair Polish roads and train stations, Warsaw demands special treatment. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in the Polish Seim boasts that he knocked out billions in Brussels, because “assertive politics, not patting on the shoulder” is most effective in dealing with EU. A good example for neighboring Hungary and other frustrating member states.

At the same time, Moravetsky adds that the EU is dealing with “imaginary problems that have basically created for itself.” Geopolitical rudeness or ordinary impudence?

The origins of Polish politics: the US factor

All things considered, it seems that it is not so simple. Poland is not just blackmailing, sabotaging and trolling Brussels. 80% of Polish exports go to the EU countries. The majority of the country’s population supports EU membership and even goes to rallies on this matter.

In feuds with the European Union, Warsaw traditionally emphasizes the importance of NATO and the United States. It is beneficial for the US for the EU to be integrated. But not too much. Earlier the “Trojan horse” was London, which blocked the construction of the federation. Now Polish politicians are trying to fit into this role. They are becoming useful for an increasingly self-isolating Washington. The expectation that NATO membership, US support and the pumping of the “Russian threat” will not allow Berlin to tighten the screws and cut off the oxygen to the Polish “economic miracle”.

“Poland problem” for Brussels is the problem of the geopolitical weakness of the European Union. The EU remains unconditionally dependent on US guarantees for its defense. And you can’t argue. Warsaw politicians sense weakness. However, they can overestimate their strengths. Just as has happened more than once in history.

NATO Threatens Germany with Nuclear Weapons in Eastern Europe

The United States may deploy nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said November 19. As the spokesman for the Alliance explained, this could happen if Berlin refuses to keep American bombs on its territory. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the words of the secretary general as a rejection of the “fundamental for European security” obligations enshrined in the Russia-NATO Founding Act. What is behind this signal was analyzed by independent military observer Alexander Ermakov.

History of the issue

On November 19, speaking at a NATO event in Germany, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg casually answered a question by making an unheard-of statement. NATO’s common nuclear weapons could be deployed in Eastern Europe. Let us recall what kind of common NATO nuclear arsenal we are talking about. This mission is “NATO nuclear sharing”, in Russian official diplomatic terminology “NATO joint nuclear missions”, whose roots go back to the 1950s, when the United States began to deploy tactical nuclear weapons (including aerial bombs) in Europe.

At that time, the attitude of politicians and military strategists to nuclear weapons was completely different. The concept of their nonproliferation in its current form was not accepted. The United States planned and began to implement a program to create a common NATO nuclear force. By transferring its weapons to its allies and forming special joint units. The plans included a group of surface ships with mixed crews armed with Polaris missiles. The idea of ​​deploying numerous railway missile systems in Europe was considered. Ready to involve the allies even in their grandiose project of a huge rocket base under the Greenland glacier.

None of this was implemented. The Americans transferred medium-range missiles to a number of allies (in particular, Great Britain, Italy and Turkey) and deployed storage bombs in a number of countries. They also began training national crews for their use. The first such agreement was concluded in 1958 with Great Britain. Formal control over the charges was retained by the American military. They also played the role of instructors.

In 1968 NPT was signed

The USSR was much less actively engaged in nuclear armament of the allies . However, in the early 1960s. began to express considerations about the transfer of charges to the allies (they had carriers, and will continue to be). However, after the shock of the Cuban missile crisis, the attitude towards nuclear weapons became more serious. The United States and the USSR took the path of relative support for the idea of ​​nonproliferation. They abandoned the idea of ​​creating a full-fledged “NATO common nuclear force”. Deployed medium-range missiles were soon removed from service.

In 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was signed. However, the United States did not completely abandon the practice of storing nuclear weapons in those countries where they had already been deployed at the time of its signing, and from training local personnel. First of all, this concerned aerial bombs, but during the Cold War, charges were also stored for tactical short-range ballistic missiles of the Allies (for example, for the German Pershing IA). At that moment it fit into the logic of the bloc confrontation and was not particularly criticized by the USSR, which was doing the same, albeit to a much lesser extent. Tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Eastern Europe were primarily intended to equip Soviet groups (they were deployed in Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia and Poland).

With the end of the Cold War, the USSR promptly withdrew its nuclear weapons from the countries of the collapsing Warsaw Pact. The last nuclear warheads were launched into the national territory in August 1991. Washington was in no hurry to follow Moscow’s example.

Puting junior partners in their place

Many Western European politicians are for the immediate withdrawal of American bombs. The United States to a certain extent take into account public opinion. The withdrawal from Great Britain took place under its pressure. However, they prefer to “work” first of all with the political elite. It consist of people loyal to the United States and associated with them. . There is the desire to economize on one’s own defense, having sold part of the sovereignty. Or unwillingness to independently make decisions and be responsible for them. Or a real fear of being left without protection.

This concerns Germany perhaps even more so than some others. For Germany, the issue of the bomb carrier is more acute. The country does not have the F-35, and it will have to spend specially for this task.

The NATO Secretary General, who is pursuing American policy, deliberately did not conceal or play up. “If you dare to demand the withdrawal of our bombs, then we will take them out to Poland on the basis of a bilateral agreement. And we will not even ask you on the fields of the Alliance.”

This does not make much sense

From a practical point of view, this does not make much sense. Installations in Poland will only be better observed by Russian intelligence. It is also easier to hit them due to their close location. “Approach time” in the case of air bases is not as important as in the case of the deployment of ballistic missiles – it should be counted from the detection of an aircraft flying towards the target, and not from the moment of takeoff. 

Such rhetoric should be greeted in the diplomatic arena as unacceptable as possible, and recalled for as long as possible. This is complete arrogance, disregard for the same Founding Act. It runs counter even to the old American “excuses” why NATO nuclear sharing is legal and does not violate the NPT.

China and Europe open competition for Russian gas

The infrastructure for the delivery of energy resources from the Russian Federation to the EU is much larger than in the case of export to the “Celestial Empire”, but Beijing’s prospects are more serious

The period of construction of new gas pipelines from Russia to Europe is almost over. However, in the eastern direction this process will continue further. Does this mean that the EU should worry about the presence of Russian gas in the near future, which may “migrate” to Asia?

China, Mongolia and Russia are developing a new Soyuz Vostok gas pipeline. It will stretch from the Russian Federation to Asian countries. According to Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia Sainbuyangiin Amarsaykhan, the construction of such a highway can begin in three years.

In essence, we are talking about the creation of Power of Siberia-2. It will even more open the doors of the Chinese energy market for Russian pipeline gas. Talks about a new additional highway to the PRC through Mongolia were conducted back in 2019. It was not entirely clear then whether such a project would be implemented or not.

Now it became clear that the highway will be built for sure. The only question is when and under what conditions. This automatically makes it impossible to increase energy supplies to the EU countries.

It would be a great exaggeration and dilettantism to say that all Russian gas intended for the Old World may eventually migrate to the “Celestial Empire” and other Asian countries. Alas, the infrastructure for delivering energy from Russia to Europe is much more serious than for exporting to China. However, this does not mean at all that the European Union has nothing to worry about. The EU countries will still have problems with the purchase of gas from the Russian Federation. Power of Siberia-2, as an unpleasant bonus, will make them even more serious.

Will China take everything for itself or is it a myth?

Even before the construction of Power of Siberia, however, as well as after its launch in December 2019, many European politicians and experts, even from Asia, said that this project would be a failure.

Power of Siberia will not immediately reach its design capacity in terms of deliveries of 38 billion cubic meters per year. Last year, the contract provided for pumping only 5 billion cubic meters to China. Compared to the volume of gas exports from Russia to Europe, these are crumbs.

Recall that even in 2020, when due to COVID-19 energy consumption in the Old World was minimal, the supply of “blue fuel” from Russia to Europe, including Turkey, amounted to 135.75 billion cubic meters ( data from Gazprom Export).

The past months of 2021 also showed that the volumes of pipeline gas supplies to China are incomparable with those to Europe. The volumes of Russian gas pumped to Gazprom’s main customers in the first quarter of 2021 set a 3-year record. The company supplied 52.7 billion cubic meters to Europe.

Gazprom needs to agree on guaranteed export volumes with China. This is a topic for bargaining for several years. Then you need to sign a transit agreement with Mongolia. If everything goes well, construction will start only in 2024. That means that gas will not flow through this pipeline soon.

It will eventually pump even more than the first gas pipeline to China. In November of this year, the management of PJSC Gazprom even announced that the export capacity of Power of Siberia-2 could exceed the capacity of the first Russian gas pipeline to China by more than 1.3 times.

The dragon from the east cannot be underestimated

The volume of Russian gas supplies clearly speaks in favor of Europe – the current 135.75 billion cubic meters to the EU versus the potential 88 billion to China, and these figures will not appear in a year or two, or even in 5 years.

It would seem, why should the European Union worry? Alas, there really is a reason. The problem is that there are growth prospects for Russian gas exports to China, but in the case of supplies to the EU, they no longer.

Even in the coronavirus-crisis year 2020, when the world first faced the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced energy consumption, the average price of Russian gas in China was $ 150.2 per 1,000 cubic meters. For comparison: in the same year, the average export price of Gazprom to non-CIS countries, including Europe, was $ 143 per 1,000 cubic meters.

China loves to bargain with Russia no less than Europe. Sometimes it is even more difficult to agree on the volume of supplies and the price. The question remains open whether Russia will be able to attract Chinese capital to finance the construction of the Soyuz Vostok.

In the long term, the government and business of the PRC will be glad to increase purchases of gas from the Russian Federation. This became clear especially now, when, during the global energy crisis, it became clear that solar panels and wind energy cannot normally supply the “Celestial Empire” with electricity in adverse weather, which means that a safety net is needed – gas.

The prospects for increasing Russian energy supplies to the EU are very vague. It seems that there have been more gas pipelines in recent years. Nord Stream, Turkish Stream, Nord Stream-2. For some reason there is not enough gas in the Old World, especially now during the energy crisis.

Which one is more attractive?

Russia uses new lines, but at the same time reduces the volume of pumping on old lines. For example, if in 2019 92.3 billion cubic meters were sent to Ukraine (for the transit of part of this volume to the EU), then in 2020 only 55.7 billion cubic meters. The decrease in the volume of pumping through the Ukrainian pipe, in fact, turned out to be surprisingly equal to the size of the throughput of the Turkish Stream.

“At first glance, the European direction of gas exports does not seem as attractive to Russia as the eastern one (China). The reason for this is the active decarbonization process in the EU, coupled with cross-border carbon regulation, which will come into force as early as 2023. The value of the cross-border carbon tax for Russian companies are estimated at approximately $ 3-4.8 billion a year.

LNG from Russia is a lifeline for the EU, however expensive

It should be admitted that despite future difficulties with the supply of pipeline “blue fuel” from the Russian Federation, Europe can safely hope for the import of liquefied gas.

The specifics of LNG trade in the world economy today is such that this product, in contrast to gas pipelines, is more mobile. It is from the mains that the energy carrier gets from point “A” to point “B” and nothing else. But a liquefied gas tanker can always be rerouted from one port to another, where they will pay more for LNG at the moment.

This is clearly seen in the example of the supply of liquefied gas from the United States, which Europe was counting on in 2021, but most of these volumes eventually went to Asia – to a region where LNG was offered at a higher price than in the Old World.

US and Gulf Gas Suppliers Throw EU in Difficult Times

It is worth looking for the culprit in the EU energy market in Brussels and the capitals of the largest countries of Western Europe. Political myopia and colossal dependence on Washington played a cruel joke on them. This opinion was expressed by the FAN economist, top manager in the field of financial communications and CSR Andrey Loboda 

Russia complies with the conditions

The German government has officially denied the assertion of Russia’s non-compliance with contracts for gas supplies to Europe. This was announced to TASS by the head of the Bundestag Committee on Economics and Energy Klaus Ernst .

“The German government on October 11 officially gave a negative answer to my question as to whether there are signs that the reason for the increase in gas prices is the failure of Russian energy suppliers to comply with their obligations under existing contracts,” said the German deputy.

The Cabinet of Ministers’ reply provided by Ernst says that “the FRG government has no information about non-compliance by Russian energy suppliers with their contractual obligations.”

Prices of gas skyrocketed

As Andrei Loboda noted, gas prices pulled up all other energy assets in the world market. The most vulnerable were the markets of the EU, Great Britain and the key economic powers of Southeast Asia. According to conservative estimates, each Western European family will pay for heating services and electricity consumption by 500 euros more than last year.

“Even against the background of relative stabilization and flawless fulfillment of the delivery schedule under the existing contracts on the part of Russian companies to the EU, the European gas market is experiencing an obvious deficit. The price of blue fuel on the London ICE exchange on Friday exceeded $ 1,250 per thousand cubic meters. The time of cheap gas on world markets has come to an end, and for the next ten years, consumers in the world’s leading markets will live in a new reality, ”explained Andrey Loboda.

As the FAN interlocutor noted, the USA, China, Japan, EU, Great Britain were so carried away by the energy transition and a secure energy future that, as a result, they could not predict the development of events for the next year. Now you have to learn from mistakes.

“To look for the culprit in what happened on the EU energy market is in Brussels and the capitals of the largest countries of Western Europe. Political myopia and colossal dependence on Washington played a cruel joke on them. Today, the western neighbors have only 75% of their underground storage facilities pumped in, and the US has inflicted the most serious damage on its European partners in NATO through the policy of sanctions against Nord Stream 2, added Andrei Loboda.

The US threw the EU at critical moments

As Andrei Loboda noted, 12 small energy companies left the UK market. Despite an increase in Russian gas supplies by 15% every year, the leading energy companies in Germany are experiencing insurmountable problems. The world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal, has shut down several of its European plants due to rising energy prices.

“The Europeans will now have to impartially rethink what happened, develop formulas for balancing and shaping the energy market. The Americans and oil and gas suppliers from the Persian Gulf countries simply threw the EU at critical moments, reorienting exports to China, Japan and South Korea, because in these countries fuel prices are almost 10% higher than European ones. The shortage of natural gas in Europe and Asia increases the demand for oil and coal, the situation is seriously aggravating. By the end of 2021, oil can gain a foothold in the range of $ 90-100 per barrel of Brent. The market is still driven by expectations of strong demand for energy in October and Q4, ”said Andrey Loboda.

According to him, the United States admitted to pressure on OPEC to reduce fuel prices. The toxic footprint of the United States in the current EU energy crisis is visible to the naked eye. Friendship and currying favor with the US is costly for the EU.

“High gas prices have already led to a slowdown in the growth of the European economy, the European industry has already begun to decline. The events taking place pose a serious threat to the formation of a coalition in the German Bundestag. And Nord Stream 2, like oil and gas supplies from Russia, has nothing to do with it, “concluded Andrei Loboda.

Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year. At the end of 2019, then-US President Donald Trump signed the country’s military budget plan, which included the imposition of sanctions on the project. According to experts, the launch of Nord Stream 2 will be able to strengthen the sovereignty of Europe, led by Germany, over the United States.

Alternative to Suez: The Northern Sea Route

Finnish designers have developed a container ship for the Northern Sea Route

Suez Canal was blocked for one week by the giant container ship Ever Given. Alternative routes from Europe to Asia are increasingly being discussed. The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is no exception.

On March 22, the day before the incident in the Suez Canal, the Finnish design bureau Aker Arctic , specializing in ice technology, presented a project of an Arctic container ship for the NSR. Detailed information is contained in the corporate publication of a Finnish company. 

Prototypes

The concept design of a container ship with a capacity of 8 thousand TEU for year-round operation on the NSR is based on previous developments by Aker Arctic for the region. A series of reinforced ice-class container ships of the Norilsk Nickel type and LNG carriers of the Arc7 class for the Yamal LNG project.

The container ship for the NSR will differ from other vessels of a similar type with an ice-reinforced hull. As well as icebreaker-type bow lines, and equipment for protecting cargo from the cold.

Two options

According to Luigi Portunato, shipbuilding engineer at Aker Arctic, the vessel can be built in two versions.

The first assumes the use of the “double acting ship” technology. It is due to the hull lines and the propulsion complex higher than the nose. In this case, the hybrid propulsion system consists of one shaft line with a central propeller and two rudder propellers along the sides.

The second , more traditional option, involves the use of two shafting with propellers and two rudders.

The container ship with rudder propellers will be able to operate on the NSR all year round. It would be moving stern ahead in difficult ice conditions. A container ship with propellers in difficult conditions will need the help of an icebreaker.

A special feature of the double-acting container ship will be an additional wheelhouse located in the aft part of the mooring deck. That will be used when moving aft forward. In addition, due to low operating temperatures, the bridge between the engine room and the wheelhouse with living quarters will be located below deck.

Container ship for work on the Northern Sea Route / Illustration: Aker Arctic

Specifications

At the moment, the following technical characteristics of the container ship from Aker Arctic are known:

  • container capacity – 8000 TEU;
  • length – about 300 m;
  • width – 46 m;
  • draft – 13 m;
  • power (option 1) – 56 MW (propeller 1×22 MW, rudder propellers 2×17 MW);
  • power (option 2) – 44 MW (propellers 2×22 MW);
  • icebreaking capacity (option 1) – 2.3 m (at 3 knots, nose forward);
  • icebreaking capacity (option 2) – 1.9 m (at 3 knots, nose forward)

Project economics

When developing the project of the container ship, two options for the use of Arctic container ships on the Northern Sea Route were calculated. From Asian ports to European ports. As well as only in the section between the supposed container hubs in Murmansk and Kamchatka.

As a result, the designers came to the conclusion that the cost of transportation of a conventional container decreases with an increase in the vessel’s capacity for all options. At the same time, it is difficult to pinpoint the point when the options for transportation along the NSR become more profitable than the route through the Suez Canal. This is influenced by many factors, including the cost and type of fuel, the degree of loading of the vessel, etc.

According to Luigi Fortunatto, in the current market conditions, using an Arctic container ship is slightly more expensive than crossing the Suez Canal. The economic efficiency of Arctic container ships could be increased by switching to liquefied natural gas (LNG). At the same time, the shorter route from Asia to Europe along the NSR gives a gain in time. If earlier the speed and adherence to the schedule could only be guaranteed in summer, then with the new container ship we can already talk about the winter-spring period.

It is worth noting that the Aker Arctic publication does not mention the customer for the new vessel. It can be assumed that it is a subsidiary of Rosatom, Rusatom Cargo, which is implementing a project to create the Northern Sea Transit Corridor (SMTK). Earlier it became known about the company plans to start pilot operation of Arctic container ships of the Arc7 class as early as 2024.