Tuesday, February 23, 2021

European companies withdraw from the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline / GORDON


Washington considers the sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to be working, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on February 22.

18 European companies have left the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project or are at the exit stage. The reason for this is the possible sanctions against the project by the United States, writes DW, citing a report from the US Department of State to Congress.

Most of them are insurance companies registered in the UK, the publication specifies.

Mannheim-based industrial services provider Bilfinger, Munich insurance company Munich Re Syndicate Limited, Swiss Zurich Insurance Group and Paris-based Axa Group have ended their participation in the project.

DW notes that the US has threatened with sanctions against other companies, but so far they only act against the Russian company KBT-Rus (it owns the pipe-laying vessel Fortuna, which is involved in the construction of the gas pipeline).

Washington considers the adopted sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be working, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on February 22. He stressed that the United States will continue to track companies “involved in potentially sanctioning actions.” According to him, Nord Stream 2 is a “bad deal” for Europe, which “contradicts the declared goals of Europe itself in the field of energy.”

Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline that is supposed to connect Russia with Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The length of the route is over 1200 km, the capacity of the new pipeline will be 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year. It was reported that the cost of the project is € 9.9 billion, it is financed by the Russian Gazprom and five European companies: Anglo-Dutch Shell, German Wintershall and Uniper, French Engie and Austrian OMV.

The authorities of the United States, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia consider Nord Stream 2 a threat to Europe’s energy security.

The construction of the gas pipeline began in 2018. In December 2019, construction was frozen as the United States imposed sanctions on European contractors involved in the project. At that time, 93% of the pipeline had been completed, Nord Stream 2 AG reported.

A year later, on December 11, 2020, construction was resumed. Until the completion of the construction of two strings of the gas pipeline, a total of 160 km are left “with a little”, said Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 17. In February 2021, Gazprom announced that it intends to commission Nord Stream 2 this year.

On January 19, the US Treasury Department imposed new sanctions against companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. In particular, the sanctions affected the Russian ship Fortuna and its owner – the KVT-RUS company, as well as the Rustanker company, the Maxim Gorky oil tanker and the Sierra tanker for the transportation of crude oil. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry welcomed this decision, and the Russian “Gazprom” for the first time admitted the possibility of suspending the implementation or completely canceling the project.

However, on January 24, it became known that the Russian pipe-laying vessel Fortuna had resumed construction of the Nord Stream 2 in Danish waters. In 2020, the pipelayer laid 2.6 km of pipes in German waters, about 120 km remained unfinished in Danish waters and about 28 km in German waters.

The Handelsblatt newspaper wrote on February 1 that US President Joe Biden could lift sanctions against Nord Stream 2 if he gets guarantees that Russia will not use the pipeline against Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. The State Department denied this information, stating that they would interfere with the construction of Nord Stream 2.

US Senator Jane Shaheen and Republican Senator James Risch sent a letter to the Biden administration in support of the full implementation of legislation related to the Nord Stream 2 gas transmission project, “which aims to end the project.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on February 16 that the Biden administration has begun negotiations with Berlin over sanctions against companies involved in the construction process.





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