A Russia accelerates work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline before United States toughen sanctions against the controversial project designed to provide more natural gas at Germany.
Construction of the 1,230-kilometer gas pipeline reached a milestone on Monday with the completion of the installation of one-section pipelines in Germany’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the project operator said. Among the next steps is the resumption of work in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea, where most of the remaining sections of the 157 km connection will be located.
The advance of construction is a victory for the President of Russia, Vladimir Poutineand for Gazprom, the country’s leading gas export company. When completed, the project will allow Russia to increase gas deliveries to the Europe and bypass the traditional transport corridor through Ukraine. US and Eastern European countries say Nord Stream 2 will make Germany and European Union very dependent on Russian gas.
“There are about 120 kilometers in Danish waters and about 30 kilometers in the German EEZ to be built,” Nord Stream 2 said in an email on Tuesday in response to questions. “We are unable to provide more details on the construction. We will keep you informed of other offshore construction activities in due course. “
Construction on the € 9.5 billion ($ 11.6 billion) project was halted a year ago by U.S. sanctions and only resumed earlier this month, when Gazprom shut down. found his own ship to install the pipeline. Nord Stream 2 can use the Fortuna ship to carry out work from January 15, with the help of construction ships Murman and Baltiyskiy Issledovatel and other supply vessels, the Danish Maritime Authority announced last week.
Based on the Danish license, the operator must send an updated schedule to the country’s Energy Agency before carrying out the work. So far, the regulator has not received the updated plan, the agency said. The Fortuna ship can install up to 1 km of pipelines per day.
At this rate, analysts believe that Nord Stream 2 could start operations at the end of 2021 in an optimistic scenario.
“I have no doubts that the pipeline will be completed,” Uniper CEO Andreas Schierenbeck said Wednesday in an interview with German newspaper Rheinische Post. “People don’t have to like the pipeline, but Europe needs it.”
The German concessionaire is one of the main financiers of the project.
Meanwhile, the United States is seeking to tighten sanctions, extending sanctions to companies that provide technical and insurance certification for the job. This legislation was part of a broader defense bill passed by Congress but opposed by the President Donald trump. The Chamber of Deputies annulled the veto. If the decision is approved by the Senate, which is controlled by Trump’s Republican Party, the new measures could take effect in the coming weeks.
If the Senate overturns Trump’s veto on the defense bill, “the new sanctions against Nord Stream 2 will become a reality,” said Mateusz Kubiak, senior analyst at Esperis, an energy consultancy in Warsaw. “This is perhaps just another factor that will make it more difficult for the Russians to restart work efficiently and in a timely manner” in Danish waters in January, Kubiak said.
US sanctions came too late to stop the pipeline project, Vladimir Chizhov, Russian Ambassador to the EU, said on Wednesday in an interview with Tass.