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US Admits Sanctions Can’t Stop Russia-led Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

The U.S. sanctions aimed at derailing the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany came too late to have a meaningful effect on a nearly completed project, two senior U.S. Administration officials told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

The U.S. Senate passed on Tuesday the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a massive defense bill that includes slapping sanctions on companies helping Russia’s gas giant Gazprom to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

President Donald Trump has said he would quickly sign the bill, which also creates a Space Force, into law.  

The sanctions in the bill target subsea construction vessels that lay the pipeline and managers at firms connected with those vessels, two people familiar with the bill told Bloomberg last week.

U.S. lawmakers have sought to pass a bill to levy sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 project, which the United States sees as further undermining Europe’s energy security by giving Russian gas giant Gazprom another pipeline to ship its natural gas to European markets.

Germany, the end point of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, looks at the economic benefits of the project, while the U.S., including President Donald Trump, have been threatening sanctions on the project and even on Germany over its support for the project.

After the U.S. lawmakers included such sanctions in the defense bill, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said last week that “European energy policy is being decided in Europe, not in the US,” adding that Germany opposes intervention and extraterritorial sanctions.

However, with the project nearly complete, the U.S. will have little leverage to stop it from going online, and Washington will focus on trying to prevent other Russian energy projects from happening, the senior officials told Bloomberg.

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Currently, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is expected to come on stream in the middle of 2020, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said last month, adding that construction of the project was 80 percent complete.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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