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Germany will freeze the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in case of any “escalation” between Russia and Ukraine, the new German foreign minister said, citing an agreement between her country and the United States.
"In the event of further escalation this gas pipeline could not come into service," Annalena Baerbock told German media, as quoted by AFP.
The remarks follow a comment from Germany’s new Prime Minister, Olaf Scholtz that "It would be a serious mistake to believe that violating the borders of a European country would remain without consequences."
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will double the capacity of the existing Russia-Germany artery by 55 billion cubic meters of gas, is awaiting certification from the German authorities. The pipeline was completed earlier this year but Germany said it cannot give it the green light until several formal requirements were met.
The latest-flare up with Ukraine came after the U.S. claimed it had intelligence that Russia was planning an invasion into its neighbour, which spurred a series of warnings from Washington and Brussels to Moscow.
Meanwhile, the certification process for the infrastructure has been suspended by the German authorities because the pipeline must have an operator that is incorporated under German law. This means that the commissioning of the pipeline could be delayed until March next year. It could be delayed even further because after Germany approves it—if it does—the project will have to go to the European Commission, which would be tasked with making sure it complies with EU regulations.
According to government sources from European countries, it is because of this potential delay that Russia is not sending more natural gas to Europe, beyond what it is obliged to send under long-term contracts. The problem for Europe is this limited supply of gas could continue for months during the season of the highest demand.
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.