US Considers More Sanctions on NS2: Press
Two US senators are expected to introduce sanctions this week on the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) project to prevent Russia from finishing the pipeline, Reuters reported on May 29.
The sanctions bill, which would have to be cleared by Congress and then signed into law by president Donald Trump, is expected to be introduced by senators Ted Cruz, a Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat. The pair of lawmakers backed sanctions imposed on NS2 in December which threatened penalties against pipelaying contractors, forcing Swiss firm Allseas to halt work on the project.
Only 6% of NS2 offshore section is left to complete, and Russia's Gazprom has dispatched its own pipelaying vessel, Akademik Cherskiy, to finish it. The ship is currently idle off the German port of Mukran, where Gazprom has been storing Nord Stream 2 pipes over the years, as is another Russian vessel with pipelaying capabilities, Fortuna.
Akademik Cherskiy is understood to be equipped with a dynamic positioning system required to work at the NS2 construction site under Danish law, but its crane is not large enough to lift NS2's pipes. It has therefore been suggested that Gazprom could couple Fortuna, which has a larger crane, to Akademik Cherskiy. But this could render Akademik Cherskiy’s DPS unusable, so it would need anchoring. Doing this would require another permit from Denmark because of the suspected presence of larger amounts of World War II explosives on the seabed.
NS2 could also face operational challenges, after an EU court in May rejected Gazprom's challenge against EU gas law amendments that may require the company to partially divest the pipeline and provide third-party access to its capacity.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has said he expects the pipeline to start operating in either late 2020 or early 2021.