BASF's Wintershall defends Russia gas partnership

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - BASF oil and gas subsidiary Wintershall defended its partnership with Russia in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring Russian gas to Europe, saying this was a more stable option than liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Board member Thilo Wieland, attending the World Gas Conference in Washington, D.C., said Europe’s geography and dwindling domestic gas resources meant that pipeline links were superior, both economically and ecologically, to LNG that the United States is seeking to export.

“Once completed, Nord Stream 2 will play a key role in Europe’s energy supply, in contrast to LNG, which is lured away by money at a moment’s notice, but which does not guarantee volumes long-term and reliably for Europe,” he said as part of the company’s statements during the conference.

Wintershall is a member of the Nord Stream 2 consortium, which includes Gazprom, that started starting preparatory work in the Greifswald bay off Germany’s Baltic coast on a new twin pipeline last month.

Wieland said direct links to Russia and Norway worked as an energy insurance policy while EU countries warning of Russia’s dominant role were ignoring the rising role of LNG terminals and interconnectors.

“Any talk of Russia having a monopoly is inaccurate,” he said.

Joint exploration by Wintershall with Gazprom in Siberia includes developing the Achimgaz project in a region holding 274 billion cubic metres of gas.

At the Siberian Yuzhno-Russkoye field, Wintershall has been producing 25 bcm per year, a third of Germany’s annual consumption - since 2009.

Wieland also said U.S. policies of punitive tariffs and sanctions were harming cooperation and erecting walls against free trade.

A survey conducted by Forsa and quoted by Wintershall, taken in May, showed 21 percent of Germans see the U.S. as a reliable gas supplying country, whereas as recent as September 2017, it had been 50 percent.

Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Jane Merriman