Date: 4 February 2020
Will Nord Stream 2 Be Built At All?
A German newspaper reported that the United States seeks to introduce further restrictions against the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. While those in force since December 2019 have frozen the construction of Nord Stream 2, additional punitive measures might make the investment completely pointless. Much may hinge on both policy and U.S.-Russian current ties. Recent weeks have seen Washington’s delivering blows to Russian grip on many regions of the world. Tensions also have been on the rise in Syria, while Washington has ostentatiously provided support to Belarus. For their part, Bulgarian authorities, who are under pressure from the United States, have waged a campaign against Moscow’s spying, with the Bulgarian stretch of the TurkStream energy pipeline being potentially at risk.
The United States intends to impose fresh sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline if Russia attempts to complete its construction, German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported.
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The punitive measures may be designed to target European investors and businesses looking to receive Russian-sourced gas provided that the gas pipeline is built at all. Adopted by the U.S. Congress, the sanctions could come as soon as February or March. Perhaps the German government will further engage in their lobbying activities in an attempt to suspend the existing penalties, taking advantage of a loophole in the form of a provision in the act, and block any new ones. Another option Berlin has on the table is to make the European Union push forward a set of retaliatory measures targeted at the United States. This is all Germany can do, though. Of these two, Russia is responsible for constructing the pipeline. One of the potential Russian pipelayers that could be deployed is the Akademik Chersky, seen as most suitable for the task. But the vessel was initially intended to work on Sakhalin projects while it is now undergoing modernization work in the Nakhodka harbor in the Russian Far East. It would be realistic to finish the pipeline in the first quarter of 2021, given that 93 percent of the project is ready, if Russia was able to resume construction works in the first half of 2020. Speaking after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin hoped for Nord Stream 2 completion by early 2021, so the ultimate deadline. He said Russia would complete the pipeline’s construction without foreign assistance. What Putin has announced is yet open to doubt. All signs are that pipelaying works will resume no sooner than in early 2021. Gazprom is trying its best to keep up appearances and performs further tasks to the extent it is able to. The Stril Explorer vessel, which is owned by Sweden’s MMT company, is conducting seabed research along the route of the gas pipeline in Denmark’s exclusive economic zone, southeast of Bornholm Island. Further works are carried out in the Russian waters to stabilize the pipes already laid along the seabed.
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