Germany halts Nord Stream 2 certification
Germany has halted the certification process necessary for the Nord Stream 2 to begin flowing gas in light of Moscow's recognition of Ukraine's breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent, chancellor Olaf Scholz said on February 22.
The German leader has ordered the withdrawal of a key document needed for the certification process to be completed. The process is already significantly behind schedule, after German regulator BNetzA suspended it in November, stating that the Russian-owned, Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 operating company would first need to transfer its assets to Germany and align itself with German law.
BNetzA said in December that it did not anticipate taking a decision on certification until the second half of next year.
"That sounds technical, but it is the necessary administration step so there can be no certification of the pipeline and without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot begin operating," Scholz told reporters, according to German news site Deutsche Welles.
Nord Stream 2 is already over two years behind schedule. The 55bn m3/year pipeline was originally due to flow gas in early 2020, but construction was delayed by permitting issues in Denmark and the introduction of US sanctions. These sanctions forced Swiss pipelayer Allseas to withdraw from the project, meaning Russia had to find its own vessels to complete the pipeline.
Since recognising Donetsk and Lugansk as dependent, Russia has moved troops into the rebel-held regions, describing it as a peacekeeping mission. The US, the EU and the UK are preparing sanctions against Moscow in retaliation.