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30 May, 2020 08:42

US may introduce new sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 as gas project approaches final stage

US may introduce new sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 as gas project approaches final stage

American senators are reportedly seeking to impose additional sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 underwater pipeline, meant to deliver Russian gas to Germany, as previous attempts to stop the $10 billion project failed.

The new measures are set to be introduced by vocal opponents of the pipeline – Senators Ted Cruz, a Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat – on Monday, Reuters reported citing sources. While the lawmakers did not comment on the news that the bill could come to light early next week, Cruz earlier retweeted a previous report saying the senators were considering it.

While it is unclear what measures the two senators, who were behind the previous bill that created a hurdle for the Nord Stream 2 last year, have in mind now, they are believed to be targeting any vessel or owner who attempts to finish the project. Cruz’s spokesperson earlier said that “all options remain on the table” to stop it.

Also on rt.com EU court rejects Nord Stream 2’s complaint, insists it must share Russian gas pipeline to Europe with competitors

In a note updated on Thursday, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said that members of Congress may consider additional sanctions in response to the construction or use of Nord Stream 2, among other measures.

Russia and its partners in the project, including Germany, have repeatedly blasted Washington’s attempts to block it. Earlier this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel had “heated disagreement” on various topics, including the Nord Stream 2, in a call with US President Donald Trump, Politico reported.

Moscow has called the sanctions against the project a case of unfair competition and contradictory to international law. Earlier this week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there are no changes in the plans for Nord Stream 2.

At the end of last year, work on the final section of the pipeline in the Baltic Sea was halted due to US sanctions meant to punish all companies involved in the construction of two major Russian gas pipelines, Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream. The threat was enough to scare away Swiss-Dutch pipelaying firm Allseas, which almost immediately ditched the project despite a 30-day wind-down period.

The move may have delayed the pipeline’s completion, but Russia pledged to finish it on its own. One of the options is using Gazprom’s Akademik Cherskiy pipelaying vessel, which has made the long journey from Russia’s Far East and has recently arrived at Germany’s port of Mukran. Another Russian vessel, the Fortuna, is also moored at the site.  

While both ships are capable of laying pipes, it is believed that only the Akademik Cherskiy has the necessary technical capabilities. While the Fortuna lacks the dynamic positioning required to work on the final kilometers of the pipeline in Danish waters, the Nord Stream 2 operator has reportedly offered to compensate for the lack of the feature by sending it on a mission with other vessels. 

The Nord Stream 2 project is 93 percent completed to date. After its launch, scheduled for the end of the year, the Nord Stream 2 will supply Europe with up to 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year, on top of the 55 bcm already pumped through Nord Stream 1 every year since 2011.

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