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Russia has finished laying nearly two thirds of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, the deputy chairman of Gazprom’s management committee has announced.
“The completion of the sea part [of Nord Stream 2] is around 60 percent,” Oleg Aksyutin told the Rossiya 24 channel.
The undersea pipeline, designed to deliver Russian natural gas to Germany and further on to other European customers, is set to be finished by the end of the year. The Gazprom official added that the offshore and land sections of the pipeline were connected on the German side last year and a receiving terminal is currently under construction there. On the Russian end, works are underway to complete the land and sea sections.
Denmark’s delayed permission for the pipeline to pass through its territorial waters is considered one of the main hurdles to implementation of the project on schedule. Other countries on the route of the gas pipeline –Russia, Finland, Sweden and Germany– have long-since approved it.
Russian energy giant Gazprom, which leads the project in partnership with European energy majors, dismissed concerns over the awaited approval from Danish authorities. If Copenhagen fails to greenlight the project, the alternative route bypassing Danish waters would be just 34 kilometers longer than the original one. Given the current pipe-laying speed, it would take just seven additional days to build it, according to Aksyutin.
The US has been vocally criticizing Nord Stream 2 from the very beginning, claiming that Russia would use the pipeline to gain political leverage in Europe and warning against participating in the project. While Germany and Austria have repeatedly fended off such allegations, Denmark might have been more sensitive to Washington’s pressure, according to former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
“Nord Stream 2 is a project that can be put into service at the end of the year. But there is a problem, it’s obvious – Danish politics. This is linked to US political pressure,” Schroeder said.
The US administration’s attempts to derail the construction of the pipeline come as the Trump administration attempts to boost sales of American liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe. If the launch of Nord Stream 2 is delayed, Europe would be forced to compensate for the resultant lack of Russian gas with American supplies, according to Russian Senator Aleksey Pushkov.
“Europe will have to spend from €8- to €24 billion for LNG imports,” the senator wrote, adding Washington will receive the bulk of the sum. “That’s why the US is trying to disrupt or at least to delay the completion of the project.”