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Russia-led Nord Stream 2, the controversial pipeline that has unnerved half of Europe and the United States, is moving ahead, with the Swedish section of the pipe scheduled to be ready by October, Nord Stream 2 AG, the consortium behind the project said.
So far, the Gazprom-led consortium has laid 1,700 km of pipes, across Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Germany. The finished pipeline will have a capacity of 55 billion cu m annually and will cost US$10.65 billion (9.5 billion euro).
Several European countries, including the Baltic states and Poland, as well as the European Union (EU), have expressed concern about Russia using gas sales and its gas monopoly in Gazprom as a political tool. Ukraine has been particularly vocal in its opposition, claiming the project will allow Russia to reroute the flow of its gas through Ukraine, depriving it of transit fees that are vital for the troubled country’s budget.
In response to these concerns, this February, the EU amended its gas directive, extending the rules of the EU’s internal gas market to natural gas pipelines to and from third countries. The main elements of the gas market rules in the EU include ownership unbundling, giving access to third parties, non-discriminatory tariffs, and transparency requirements. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be owned and operated by Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, which would be in violation of the directive extended to pipelines to and from the EU.
Nord Stream 2 AG challenged the new rules in court, arguing that they were discriminatory and asked the court to annul them.
Meanwhile, last week, the U.S. Senate endorsed a bill to impose sanctions on the companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 project. The bill, ‘Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019’, sponsored by Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, was approved by the committee with a vote of 20-2. The vote came two months after President Trump threatened not a company but a whole country—Germany—with sanctions over the natural gas project.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.