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Washington threatens European firms with sanctions over Russian gas pipeline project

Washington threatens European firms with sanctions over Russian gas pipeline project
Sanctioning European investors that have already provided most of the agreed funds aimed at building the Russian-led gas pipeline to Europe is totally useless, according to the operator of the Nord Stream 2 project.

The comment comes amid the latest attempt by US senators Ted Cruz and Jeanne Shaheen to slap companies involved in the pipeline project with a series of penalties. The draft bill, a copy of which was obtained by Foreign Policy magazine, is aimed at blocking transactions in US-based property, along with interests belonging to the firms. The measure would also penalize entities providing any assistance to the project.

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The Gazprom-owned Nord Stream 2 AG said that each of its European partners, including German energy corporations Wintershall and Uniper, French multinational Engie, British-Dutch oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell, and Austrian energy firm OMV, has so far invested around a billion euros into the joint project that is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. That’s reportedly the lion share of the enterprise’s approved budget of €8 billion (US$8.9bn).

“Gazprom and five European investors, along with the contractors fully support the project,” the operator said, stressing that the cooperation allowed to “create thousands of jobs and an impetus for European economic growth.”

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The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project has attracted more than 670 firms from 25 countries, according to the company that once again highlighted that the enterprise shouldn’t be involved in politicized disputes.

“Implementation of the project is fully based on the legal framework and approval documents that rely on the European Union legislation and legal conventions,” the spokesperson said.

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The project, aimed at doubling the existing pipeline’s capacity of 55 billion cubic meters annually, has divided the 28-state bloc with some Eastern European nations along with the Baltic states strongly supporting the US position against Nord Stream 2.

The US lawmakers’ latest move aligns with the common rhetoric adopted by Washington over the Russian energy project. The White House has repeatedly rebuked the EU, and Germany in particular, for an alleged dependency on Russian gas supplies, while trying to sell US liquified natural gas (LNG) to European consumers at significantly higher prices.

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