Germany to Deny NS2 Waiver: Press
German regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) plans to reject Gazprom's application for Nord Stream 2 to be exempted from the EU's gas directive, Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper reported on April 30, citing a draft of the agency's decision.
Recent amendments to the EU's gas directive apply the bloc's Third Energy Package legislation to pipelines going to and from third countries like Russia. If applied, this legislation would require Gazprom to shed majority control of Nord Stream 2 and ensure third-party access.
BNetzA's justification for denying Nord Stream 2 a waiver is that the pipeline would need to have been completed by May 2019, when gas directive amendments came into force, in order to be eligible, according to Handelsblatt. Nord Stream 2 is still not finished, as Swiss contractor Allsea halted work after US sanctions were imposed in December. Russia now expects its launch in either late 2020 or early 2021.
The Nord Stream 2 operating company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gazprom, has argued that the project should be regarded as having been complete in May 2019, as it was already at an advanced stage of development. Its completion was delayed by factors beyond its control: Denmark took a very long time to approve its route, although the line is mostly complete on either side of Danish waters.
Russia has indicated before that it may use the Gazprom-owned Akademik Cherskiy pipelaying vessel to complete the remaining 6% of Nord Stream 2's offshore section. The vessel left the Far East in mid-February and has since journeyed through the Asia-Pacific region, around Africa and up into European waters. It is now in the Baltic Sea, on a course to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Its estimated time of arrival is May 3, according to vessel-tracking companies.