Possible US sanctions against companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline could potentially harm US oil and gas projects in the Gulf of Mexico, writes the German business newspaper Handelsblatt.
“From the point of view of Germany, the name of the US proposed sanctions bill, 'Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act', is in itself an insolence", writes the author.
The US is pushing to impose sanctions against Nord Stream 2 despite likely consequences that such restrictions may have.
Thus, European companies involved in laying the pipeline and targeted by Washington’s sanctions play a key role in the global energy market.
For a long time, these companies worked in the Gulf of Mexico as subcontractors of the American corporations Chevron and Exxon Mobil, recalls Handelsblatt.
Therefore, if they are included in the sanctions lists, projects in the Gulf of Mexico will be disrupted, since it is impossible to quickly replace such highly specialised firms.
Overall, the US economy views the proposed sanctions against Nord Stream 2 critically, the author points out. Such restrictions would also be likely to harm US gas exporters, prompting European buyers to reduce LNG imports from the United States and increase supplies from other countries.
Proposed US Sanctions on Nord Stream 2
The Nord Stream 2 project has long drawn opposition from a number of countries, with the United States, which is trying to sell more of its own liquefied natural gas to overseas allies, insisting that the project will make Europe dependent on Moscow – claims that Russia has repeatedly rebuffed.
Moscow has insisted that the pipeline project is strictly commercial, ultimately seeking to boost Europe’s energy security.
Nevertheless, in early August, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill on sanctions against companies providing vessels for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.
The document prohibits entry into the US for anyone involved in the "sale, lease, provision or assistance in providing" ships for laying Russian offshore pipelines at a depth of 30 metres or more, as well as the freezing of their assets in US jurisdiction.
Companies from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Finland, and Sweden may fall under the sanctions.
The project is being implemented by Nord Stream 2 AG, with Gazprom investing half of the funds, and the remainder being contributed by European partners: Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie, and Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell.
Germany has been strongly behind Nord Stream 2, emphasizing the commercial focus of the project.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she supported the BDI's (Federation of German Industries) stance that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for delivering Russian natural gas to Europe is necessary given the German initiative to stop using nuclear and coal energy.
Austria, which is interested in reliable supplies of fuel, and Norway, whose government owns 30 percent of the shares of Kvaerner, one of the gas pipeline construction contractors, also spoke in favor of the project.
Nord Stream 2 Project
The 745-mile-long (1,200 km) Nord Stream 2 twin pipeline is set to run from Russia to Germany through the territorial waters or exclusive economic zones of Denmark, Finland, Germany, Russia, and Sweden to deliver Russian gas to European consumers.
The completed project will double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline network, allowing a total of up to 110 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas to be transported to Western Europe via pipelines at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
According to a statement made by project operator Nord Stream 2 AG on 26 August, the pipeline is 75 percent complete.