The Russian pipe-laying vessel Akademik Cherskiy is now on her way to the country’s Kaliningrad Region, according to the ship-tracking website Marine Traffic.
“The vessel departed from [the Russian port of] Nakhodka on 10 February and is currently sailing at 9.2 knots withs southeast direction heading to [the Russian exclave of] Kaliningrad”, Marine Traffic reported. The ship is expected to reach its destination on 3 May.
The Akademik Cherskiy, which has been operated by “Gazprom Fleet” since 2016, changed her course a few times recently, with Marine Traffic reporting last month that the vessel was on its way to the Spanish port of Las Palmas.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak earlier said that the use of Akademik Cherskiy remains one of several options to wrap up the Nord Stream 2 project, but that preparing the vessel for the mission will take some time.
He spoke after the Swiss-based offshore contractor Allseas Group S.A. in December suspended work on Nord Stream 2 amid the threat of US sanctions against the pipeline firm as part of the US National Defenсe Authorisation Act for the 2020 fiscal year.
President Vladimir Putin, for his part, pointed out during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in January that Russia could complete the project on its own and that the only issue in this respect was timing.
According to the Russian president, the gas pipeline will be operational by the end of the first quarter of 2021 at the latest.
Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture between Russian energy giant Gazprom and five European companies, including France's ENGIE, Austria's OMV, the UK-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Germany's Uniper and Wintershall.
The 1,198-km (745-mile) twin gas pipeline will carry up to 55 billion cubic metres (1.942 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas per year from Russia to Germany, bypassing the existing route through Ukraine and Poland.
While Moscow describes Nord Stream 2 as a purely economic project, Washington continues efforts to undermine the venture, threatening everyone involved with sanctions and promoting its liquefied natural gas on the European market.