Russia completes construction of controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

MOSCOW – Gazprom said Friday it had completed construction of the Nord Stream 2 submarine pipeline to Germany, completing Moscow’s project to increase its gas export capabilities and bypass Ukraine, but the flows have yet to be cleared by regulators.

The heavily politicized pipeline will double Russia’s gas export capacity across the Baltic Sea to Europe and allow Moscow to bypass its political enemy Ukraine as the main route for its lucrative gas exports to Europe.

“CEO Alexei Miller said at the morning meeting at Gazprom that the construction of Nord Stream 2 was fully completed this morning at 8:45 am Moscow time,” said Gazprom.

With the construction of the pipeline, Russia has completed its plans to increase energy export capacities to Europe from both the north in the Baltic Sea and from the south into the Black Sea, where it operates the TurkStream pipeline.

Gazprom started construction of the 745-mile Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany five years ago. Progress on the $ 11 billion project stalled in late 2019 when then-US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions.

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Construction resumed about a year later with the use of our own Russian ships.

The route, together with the existing Nord Stream pipeline, will double the annual export capacity to 110 billion cubic meters, which is about half of all Russian gas exports to Europe per year.

The project has drawn criticism from the USA and Ukraine, among others. Washington says it will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies while increasing its marine liquefied natural gas sales to Europe.

On June 5, 2019, workers are seen at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline near the city of Kingisepp in Leningrad Region, Russia.Anton Vagano / Reuters file

Gazprom is Europe’s largest natural gas supplier and covers more than a third of the region’s gas market.

Russia said Thursday that the promotion of commercial gas supplies via Nord Stream 2 would not begin until a German regulator gives the go-ahead.

No approval yet

Gazprom’s announcement of the completion of the construction was met with skepticism in Kiev, which risks losing billions of dollars in gas transit fees if Moscow completely stops its gas supplies through Ukraine.

Russia’s current five-year gas transit agreement with Ukraine expires after 2024. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine must show goodwill if it is to continue Russian gas transit to Europe.

The Kremlin said “everyone” is interested in Nord Stream 2 getting the necessary permits for the gas supplies.

The German energy regulator must grant Nord Stream 2 an operating license that must comply with European unbundling rules, which require that the owners of pipelines differ from the suppliers of the gas flowing in them in order to ensure fair competition.

Gazprom’s western partners are the German Uniper, BASF Wintershall Dea, the Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell, the Austrian OMV and the French energy company Engie.

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