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A U.S. Senate committee will now not vote until next week on a bill that seeks to levy sanctions on companies and individuals involved in building the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. The bill was expected to be considered during a business meeting on Thursday but one member requested a delay consideration of the "Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act" which was accepted by the Committee Chairman Republican Senator Jim Risch.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Ted Cruz, must pass the full Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as signed off on by President Trump before becoming law.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline intended to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany, raising fear in the US and in Europe about a deeper dependence on Russia for gas supplies.
While Germany supports this project for its steady gas supplies, Eastern Europe, Nordic and Baltic Sea countries see the pipeline as increasing Moscow’s economic grip on Europe. Just like past U.S. presidents, the Trump administration is also opposed to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
The U.S. tried to pull Europe away from Russia by displacing Russian pipeline supplies to Europe with U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas. After becoming a major exporter of LNG and more U.S. shipments to European ports, the U.S. continued to promote its exports of LNG to help diversify Europe’s source of natural gas beyond Russia.
Poland, as one of the strongest opponents of this pipeline, agreed to buy U.S. LNG in a bid to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
Although U.S. LNG companies have made some long-term deals with European countries, these shipments would be still more expensive than gas sent by pipeline from Russia.
The Nord Stream pipeline project is sixty percent complete. It would ship gas from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany and would double the capacity of the existing pipeline. It still has no permission to construct the pipeline through Danish waters.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com