A Nord Stream pipeline employee standing on a platform overlooking the diagnostic cleaning plant before the opening ceremony of a gas link in Portovaya bay, northwestern Russia, in 2012. (Olga Maltseva/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

Jim Hoagland’s Jan. 3 Sunday Opinion column, “Merkel’s unsavory deal with Putin,” showed that critics of the Nord Stream 2 project fail to understand a convincing business rationale. Nord Stream 2 makes good economic sense. The European Union’s domestic gas production is rapidly declining, and demand is expected to increase in the coming years. Investors such as Shell, E.ON and BASF believe Nord Stream 2 will be part of the solution. As a purely commercial project, Nord Stream 2 is in line with the E.U.’s internal energy market vision, providing infrastructure at no additional cost to taxpayers.

Use of Nord Stream, which was completed in 2012, stood above 70 percent in 2015 — a good result for any major new infrastructure. Pipelines are designed to cover demand peaks, and no pipeline runs at 100 percent capacity all the time.

Nord Stream 2 would bring needed liquidity to Europe’s internal energy market and hubs, encouraging new interconnectors between member states to ensure that gas can flow freely to all of Europe to meet market needs.

Critics often invoke European solidarity, but many defend only their own vested interest, which in many cases is nothing more than protecting transit fees from free-market forces.

Europe’s energy policy goals should not prevent investors from building infrastructure as long as they comply with applicable legislation and regulations. Nord Stream 2 will bolster a true energy market in Europe based on competition, a goal that the U.S. government has always supported.

Ulrich Lissek, Zug, Switzerland

The writer is head of communications
for Nord Stream 2.