The United States will eventually slap sanctions on companies active in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, despite Donald Trump's denial of such plans, claims Peter Beyer, the German government's coordinator for trans-Atlantic relations.
Beyer told Bloomberg on Friday, citing an unnamed source, that the US would toughen rules and even sanctions either before the November midterms or shortly after them, in early 2019.
He added that the sanctions that are likely to take effect will, in fact, damage businesses based in Germany and other European countries. This is why, Beyer believes, it is important to continue to pursue a constructive dialogue with Washington.
His revelation came after US President Trump, on September 18, ruled out sanctions against companies taking part in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline's construction. The project, led by Russia's state-owned energy company Gazprom, is designed to carry Russian natural gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing established routes through Ukraine.
Addressing the UN General Assembly this week, Donald Trump criticized Germany over its gas imports from Russia. He further said that Germany would "become totally dependent on Russian energy" if it didn't change its course. His claims drew a rebuke from the country's Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, who said Trump's "arguments and facts proving them don't correspond to the reality. There's no German dependence on Russia; this is especially a factor in the energy field."
Donald Trump has repeatedly scolded European nations for continuing to stick to Russian gas supplies and suggested that countries like Germany drop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In July, the US State Department warned Western companies involved in the deal that they were at risk of incurring sanctions, alleging that the project could divide Europe and pose a threat to its energy security.
At the same time, the US President has been promoting American LNG in Europe as an alternative to energy imports from other suppliers. Russia is not Washington's only competitor on the Old Continent: Norway is supplying Europe with its pipeline gas, while Qatar, Nigeria and Algeria are shipping liquefied hydrocarbons to the EU as well.
Nord Stream 2 AG, the project's operating company, has France's Engie, Austria's OMV AG, UK-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, and Germany's Uniper and Wintershall among its investors. The price tag for Nord Stream 2 is estimated at 9.5 billion euros ($11 billion), with Gazprom sharing half of the costs and the five European investors sharing the rest.