03:39 GMT27 July 2021
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    Multi-billion-euro gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2 was put on pause last year after the United States imposed sanctions against firms involved in its construction. The project’s operator said on Saturday that it was planning to resume “the pipe-laying work” this year.

    American sanctions will not stop the Nord Stream 2 project from being completed, which could happen by the middle of next year as planned, Bloomberg revealed citing analysts and executives from the industry.

    “All in all, it is still possible for Nord Stream 2 to be built by summer 2021 and get all the necessary certification to flow gas the next winter,” Oxford Institute for Energy Studies’ senior research fellow Katja Yafimava told Bloomberg.

    According to the distinguished expert on energy politics, the United States must come to the realisation that “it cannot stop” Nord Stream 2.

    The project was halted in December 2019 when the US imposed sanctions against companies involved in the pipeline’s construction. The threat of penalties prompted Swiss pipe-laying operator Allseas to quit the project and withdraw its vessel from pipe-laying work, with just 160 kilometers of the pipe left to place on the floor of the Baltic Sea.

    Finding a new ship to finish the work, and securing the necessary certification that the project was safe remained the main objectives for the participants after that.

    ‘This Pipeline Will Be Finished’

    In October 2020, Washington expanded its sanctions against the 1,200-kilometer pipeline, and targeted companies that provide services or funds for tech installation on vessels that are laying pipes.  

    However, the project’s operator Nord Stream 2 AG - founded and owned by Russia’s Gazprom - said on Saturday that the project will be resumed this year, as a yet-to-be-confirmed vessel will renew pipe-laying work in the German exclusive economic zone.

    “We are convinced this project is needed,” said Rainer Seele, chairman and chief executive of Austrian oil company OMV - one of the financial backers of the pipeline, alongside Netherlands’ Royal Dutch Shell Plc, France’s Engie SA and Germany’s Wintershall AG and Uniper SE.

    “The pipeline company will resume pipe-laying activities, and this pipeline will be finished”, Seele argued.

    Nord Stream 2 pipeline construction
    © Sputnik / Nord Stream 2
    Nord Stream 2 pipeline construction

    ‘Non-Market’ Tactics

    The 9.5 billion-euro pipeline remained in the sights of the Trump administration for a long time on the grounds that it feared the project could undermine European security with Russia’s rising influence in the region. Washington has been pressuring its partners, especially Germany, to pull out of the initiative that will annually provide Europe with 55-billion cubic metres of Russian fuel through the Baltic Sea route.

    Germany has remained reluctant to succumb to pressure so far, with analysts suggesting that Washington’s bullying is mainly the result of competition concerns, rather than a genuine worry about European geopolitics.

    According to reports, US Congress is currently mulling a new round of sanctions against the project’s participants that could potentially prevent companies writing insurance for Nord Stream 2 from gaining access to the American financial system.

    According to Gazprom, the sanctions threats repeatedly used by the US was nothing but an attempt to oust Russia from the European gas market using “non-market instruments”.

    Tags:
    Gazprom, Nord Stream-2, Oxford, Germany, Russia, United States
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