Russia's Akademik Cherskiy has started laying pipes for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project in Danish waters, where the Fortuna pipe-layer has been working since early February, according to project operator Nord Stream 2 AG.
"After successfully passing sea trials, the vessel Akademik Cherskiy started pipelaying work today in the exclusive economic zone of Denmark. The Fortuna barge continues to lay pipe", the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement follows Nord Stream 2 AG's announcement last month that after testing in the Kaliningrad Region, the Akademik Cherskiy would join the laying of Nord Stream 2 pipes in Danish waters.
The Russian ship Fortuna is already working on the pipelaying as it completes construction of the second branch of the gas pipeline (Line B) in Denmark. The Akademik Cherskiy will deal with the pipelaying of the first branch of Nord Stream 2 (Line A).
The pipeline aims to carry Russian natural gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea. It consists of two 1,230-kilometre (764-mile) lines with a combined capacity of 55 billion cubic metres of gas a year. The project's operator estimated earlier this year that only 148 kilometres (92 miles) were still to be completed.
The project is being financed by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, German energy companies Uniper and Wintershall, as well as Austria's OMV, France's Engie, and the Anglo-Dutch oil concern Shell.
US Drive to Undermine Nord Stream 2
Washington and some of its European allies have repeatedly tried to torpedo the project, with US lawmakers already slapping two rounds of sanctions on Nord Stream 2, which prompted several European contractors, insurers, and certification firms to drop out.
Russia pledged to use its own pipelaying resources to wrap up the remaining 5 percent of the pipeline, which is described by Moscow as a purely economic project. The Kremlin views the US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 as an example of unfair competition meant to boost American liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe.
The standpoint is echoed by German officials who have consistently defended Nord Stream 2 as a completely economic endeavour in spite of US pressure in the form of sanctions.
Earlier this year, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder stressed that the US should not be able to "dictate" Germany's energy policy, and suggested that Washington's interest was about selling its own "expensive and poorer quality" LNG.