Russia accelerates pipeline construction ahead of US sanctions – Politics

Russia accelerates pipeline construction ahead of US sanctions - Politics
Russia has intensified work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, before the United States tightens sanctions against the controversial project, which aims to supply more natural gas to Germany.

Construction of the 1,230-km gas pipeline reached a milestone on Monday (28 December), with the completion of the installation of a section in Germany’s Economic and Exclusive Region (EEZ). Among the next steps is the restoration of works in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea, where most of the 157 km long section will be located.

This construction advance represents a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Gazprom, a pioneer in gas exports. Upon completion, the project will allow Russia to increase its gas delivery to Europe and bypass the traditional transport corridor through Ukraine. The United States and Eastern European countries say that Nord Stream 2 will make Germany and the European Union very dependent on Russian gas.

In response to Bloomberg’s questions, Nord Stream 2 said on Tuesday, “About 120 kilometers are to be built in Danish waters and about 30 kilometers in the German EEZ.” “We are not in a position to provide more details on construction. We will report on other offshore construction activities in due time.”

Construction work on the € 9.5 billion ($ 11.6 billion) project stalled by US sanctions a year ago and resumed early this month, when Gazprom found its own vessel to install the pipeline. According to the Danish Maritime Authority, which surfaced last week, Nord Stream 2 could use the ship Fortuna to carry out the works from 15 January, aided by the construction works by Marsan and Baltisky Isledovelatel and other supply ships.

Based on the Danish license, the operator must send an updated schedule to the country’s energy agency before performing the tasks. However, it has not yet been done, according to the agency. It should be noted that Fortuna ships can install gas pipelines up to 1 km per day and, at this rate, analysts It is estimated that Nord Stream 2 may start operations in late 2021 in an optimistic scenario.

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“I firmly believe that the pipeline will be completed,” UniPar CEO Andreas Schiernbeck said in an interview with the German newspaper Raenisk Post on Wednesday. “People don’t have to like the pipeline, but Europe needs it.”

Meanwhile, the United States wants to tighten its restrictions, extending technical certification for work and penalties to companies providing insurance. The legislation is part of a comprehensive defense bill passed by Congress, but vetoed by former President Donald Trump. The Chamber of Deputies did not accept the veto. If the decision is moved to 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 of the defense bill, “new sanctions against Nord Stream 2 will become real,” said Frétis, a Warsaw energy consultant, Matteus Kubić. “This may be just one more factor that will make it more difficult for Russians to resume work in Danish waters in January in an effective and timely manner”, Kubić said.

It will be too late for US sanctions to halt the pipeline project, Vladimir Chizov, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, said in an interview with Tass on Wednesday.

Sarah Gracie

About the author: Sarah Gracie

Sarahis a reporter covering Amazon. She previously covered tech and transportation, and she broke stories on Uber's finances, self-driving car program, and cultural crisis. Before that, she covered cybersecurity in finance. Sarah's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Politico, and the Houston Chronicle.

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