Russia: Gas pipeline to Germany at risk after US sanctions

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Tugboats get into position on the Russian pipe-laying vessel “Fortuna” in the port of Wismar, Germany, Thursday, Jan 14, 2021. The special vessel is being used for construction work on the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea. ( Jens Buettner/dpa via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian state gas company Gazprom acknowledged there is a risk that its undersea pipeline to Germany could be suspended or canceled after the U.S. on Tuesday imposing sanctions on a Russian ship involved in its construction.

Germany’s Economy Ministry said it had been informed in advance of the new U.S. sanctions against the Russian pipe-laying ship Fortuna and its owner. “We take note of this announcement with regret,” the ministry said.

The U.S. has said that the $11-billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline would make Europe more dependent on Russian gas and hurt European energy security. The Kremlin has responded by accusing the U.S. government of trying to promote sales of its own liquefied natural gas.

In a memorandum for investors linked to a debt issue, Gazprom noted political risks for Nord Stream 2. The company acknowledged that they could make “the implementation of the project impossible or unfeasible and lead to its suspension or cancellation,” according to the Tass news agency.

Speaking Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov lamented what he described as “crude and illegitimate U.S. pressure.”

“We closely follow the situation and analyze it as we continue work to finalize the project,” he said in a conference call with reporters.

Gazprom said that 6% of the pipeline, or about 150 kilometers (93 miles), remains to be completed and insisted that it intends to complete the project soon.

The pipeline construction was suspended in December 2019 when a Swiss firm pulled its vessels out of the project amid threats of U.S. sanctions, forcing Gazprom to try to complete it with its own resources. After a long effort to deploy Russian pipe-laying vessels, construction work resumed in German waters last month.

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April 22 2021 09:00 am