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Race against time for Nord Stream 2 builders as US sanctions near: German daily

18.12.2019 13:00
With US sanctions around the corner, the builders of the contested Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline are facing a race against time, a German newspaper has reported, as cited by a Polish website.
A flag reading Nord Stream 2 on the construction site of the controversial gas pipeline in Lubmin, Germany, earlier this year.
A flag reading "Nord Stream 2" on the construction site of the controversial gas pipeline in Lubmin, Germany, earlier this year.Photo: EPA/CLEMENS BILAN

The Nord Stream 2 AG company building the gas link will need to finish laying the pipes on the last 200-kilometre stretch of the pipeline as soon as possible if it does not want the USD 10 billion project to end in failure, the Handelsblatt business daily reported on Wednesday, according to Polish website energetyka24.com.

The US Senate on Tuesday approved a massive defence policy bill that includes a measure to punish companies involved in work to build the controversial pipeline, an energy project strongly opposed by Poland.

According to the Washington Post, the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act sets out priorities for the Pentagon and funding targets for programmes; it also authorises sanctions aimed at pipe-laying ships involved in Russia’s construction of the new gas pipeline to Europe under the Baltic Sea.

US senators on Tuesday voted 86-8 to pass the USD 738 billion defence spending bill, sending it to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature, Poland’s PAP news agency reported.

According to Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, the US sanctions are likely to be signed into force by Trump later this week.

The Trump administration would then have 60 days to identify companies and individuals providing services on the pipeline, Deutsche Welle reported on its dw.com website.

The sanctions would revoke US visas and block the property of these individuals; those targeted by the sanctions would then have 30 days to wind down their operations, according to the German broadcaster.

Meanwhile, Handelsblatt cited energy experts as saying that the planned US sanctions could delay the Nord Stream 2 project, but will not stop it in its tracks, according to energetyka24.com.

The pipeline was originally scheduled to be up and running by the end of this year, but experts now doubt if the project will completed in the first quarter of next year, the Polish website said.

A German business leader in Russia has called on the government in Berlin as well as Brussels to take retaliatory steps against any US sanctions, Poland’s niezalezna.pl website reported last week.

Poland’s antitrust authority last month said it had imposed a record fine on a company involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The 1,200-kilometre link is expected to have the capacity to send around 55 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas a year directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea, while bypassing the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine.

Warsaw and Washington have both strongly criticised the project amid concerns that the pipeline will make the European Union more dependent on Russian gas.

US President Donald Trump was cited as saying in June that Nord Stream 2 "really makes Germany a hostage of Russia if things ever happen that were bad."

He added, as quoted by the Reuters news agency at the time: “We’re protecting Germany from Russia and Russia is getting billions and billions of dollars from Germany."

US Vice President Mike Pence warned earlier this year that America “cannot ensure the defence of the West” if its allies grow dependent on Moscow as a result of projects such as Nord Stream 2.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last year that Nord Stream 2 was “a new hybrid weapon” aimed at the European Union and NATO.

(gs/pk)

Source: energetyka24.com, dw.com