A plan to expand a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is driving a wedge into the European Union, with some eastern members feeling their needs are being overlooked by the richer and more energy-diversified west, the bloc’s top energy official said.

The 10-billion euro ($11 billion) Nord Stream 2 pipeline isn’t aligned with the principles of the bloc’s laws and raises questions about the continent’s energy security, Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s chief for energy union, said in an interview in Bratislava. The pipeline, able to meet almost 15 percent of current EU gas demand, iskey to Russia’s plans to boost exports.

The planned link, which would pump Russian gas directly to Germany, has met resistance from eastern EU members including Poland, Slovakia and the Baltic States. Those nations and Ukraine, which either get income from gas transit fees or wish to diversify their energy imports beyond Russia, have called Nord Stream 2 “anti-European.”

 

“At the beginning there was a strong voice that this is a purely commercial project, but I don’t remember any commercial project that would be so intensely debated on a political level,” Sefcovic said in an interview in Bratislava. “It sparked an intensive geopolitical debate on the future of Ukraine and energy security of southeastern Europe.”

EU Rules

Russian pipeline gas export monopoly Gazprom PJSC is pursuing Nord Stream 2 with western European companies from Germany’s EON AG to Paris-based Engie SA and plans to start it in 2019. Nord Stream 2 isn’t subject to regulation under the EU’s so-called third energy package, Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said earlier this month, adding that the company expects exports to Europe to rise to a record this year.

In its current form the project doesn’t comply with EU legislation and many issues still need to be solved with the German regulator, potentially putting off potential investors, Sefcovic said.

“At times when not only state budgets but also those of energy companies are stretched because of low oil and gas prices, I’m convinced that each energy company will very thoughtfully analyze whether to participate in a project whose legal issues are not fully solved and which has triggered a very important political debate,” he said.