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Nord Stream 2

Volume 643: debated on Tuesday 26 June 2018

We recognise that Nord Stream 2 is a controversial proposal, as it would be a gas pipeline that would bypass Ukraine and give Russia greater dominance over the European energy market. The UK is not significantly affected, but we are none the less in regular contact with Germany and Ukraine to discuss and assess the situation.

I do not like saying this, because the right hon. Gentleman is a good Minister, but for him to say to that the UK is not affected displays a shocking level of languid complacency. Of course the UK will be affected if this goes ahead; it will hand to the Kremlin unimaginable economic and political leverage. Why will he not show some muscle, see that this is a big problem, not just for the UK but for the entirety of the future of Europe, and start rallying together with our allies to stop this project?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his appreciation of my skills as a former oil trader. Nord Stream is indeed a pipeline that takes gas from Russia to Germany through international waters, until Denmark, and then it makes landfall in northern Germany. It is primarily a matter for those countries but, as he says, it is of extreme strategic importance to Ukraine, which I fully recognise. That is why we have had meetings with the chief executive of NAFTA. It is also significant to note that, on 10 April, Chancellor Merkel stated that Nord Stream 2, as a project,

“is not possible without clarity on the future transit role of Ukraine”.

I welcome the Minister’s statement. He is more than aware from his many trips around Europe, and indeed his expert understanding of the energy business and the United States, of the potential impact on not only eastern Europe, but our forward defences because of that. Does he agree that working together with allies around the Baltic, where this pipeline seems to be going to flow, would be very much in our national interest and that the UK very definitely has an interest in making sure that Russia does not complete this project?

I reiterate that, in terms of our actual energy supplies, Russia accounts for only about 1% of UK gas demand, so it is very small and most of it comes from Qatar and elsewhere. However, this pipeline is potentially of strategic importance for the influence of Russia, as my hon. Friend the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee rightly says, so of course we are in discussion with Germany and other interested parties about the significance of the proposed pipeline.