American lobbying companies representing the interests of Nord Stream AG, the controlling company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, have intensified their efforts on Capitol Hill amid attempts by US senators to halt the construction of the gas project with sanctions, Justice Department filings suggest.
Since the beginning of their lobbying efforts in 2018, BGR Group, Roberti Global LLC, and Sweeney & Associates have more than doubled their earnings from representing Nord Stream AG. In the first half of 2020, these three companies made a total $1.69 million which is twice what they earned over the same period of time last year and exceeds all their entire income from for 2018.
The details of their combined lobbying efforts, such as whom and with what proposals these companies approached US officials, remained undisclosed in the filings. This is due to the lobbying activity being reported under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which doesn't mandate the revelation of such activities if the companies in question are working on behalf of a foreign company or individuals.
This fact has infuriated some in the Trump administration, according to Reuters, citing an anonymous official. The source insisted that the lobbying should have been disclosed in full under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, used when a foreign government is conducting lobbying efforts, since Nord Stream AG is owned by the Russian firm Gazprom in which Moscow has a 50% stake.
"The fact that you've got people working for Gazprom, which is essentially the Russian state, you know to manipulate our processes […] it's crazy", the official told Reuters.
The apparent spike in lobbying efforts come as a group of American senators led by Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen are trying to prevent the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline's construction from being completed using sanctions.
The White House has already issued sanctions against companies providing equipment for Nord Stream 2, forcing the Swiss company Allseas to withdraw its pipe-laying ships from the project. They were soon replaced by another pipe-laying vessel, the Akademik Cherskiy owned by Gazprom to finish the last 160 kilometres of the pipeline. Now, American lawmakers are trying to impose sanctions against companies insuring the Akademik Cherskiy to prevent it from completing the project.
These moves come as a part of Washington efforts to force its EU partners to buy gas from other than Russia, suggesting American or Israeli liquefied natural gas as an alternative, albeit a more expensive one. These moves found little support in the bloc, with the main benefactor of the new pipeline, Germany vowing to respond in a reciprocal manner if the US imposes sanctions on the country pertaining to to Nord Stream 2. Berlin rejects Washington claims that the gas project will increase Europe's dependency on Russia, insisting that gas supplies are being diversified and that Nord Stream 2 is a purely economic project, not a political one.