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Nord Stream AG has started feeding gas into the same-name pipeline to run tests as part of pre-commissioning preparations.
"The first string will be filled gradually to build the required inventory and pressure as a prerequisite for later technical tests," said the Swiss-based company as quoted by Reuters.
Meanwhile, in a separate report, Reuters revealed that Germany had approached Nord Stream 2 for assurances that it would meet all regulatory requirements when it enters into operation. This may be an indication that Germany is close to approving the politically charged piece of infrastructure.
"The Federal Network Agency today requested Nord Stream 2 AG to provide information and, if necessary, evidence that all regulatory requirements will be met in the context of operating the pipeline," the German Federal Network Agency—the watchdog for electricity and gas markets, among others—said in a statement cited in the report.
The controversy around Nord Stream 2, which initially centered on the fact that with it more Russian gas will bypass Ukraine, has now shifted to accusations that Moscow is using—and even causing—the energy crunch to force Germany into approving the new project. Gazprom has struck back, saying it is delivering exactly as much gas to the EU as is stipulated in their long-term contracts.
The United States is also against the project, fearing a deepening EU dependence on Russian fossil fuels. In 2019, Washington slapped sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and threatened to sanction the European partners in the project. Since then, the tone has mellowed somewhat, but not a lot. Russian pipeline gas remains the biggest competitor for U.S. LNG, along with Qatari LNG.
The 1,200-km, $111-billion pipeline will have the capacity to send 55 billion cu m of natural gas from Russia to Germany annually once it gets all necessary approvals.
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.