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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved this week the bill to impose sanctions on companies involved in the construction and laying of pipes for the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project from Russia to Germany.
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 U.S. sanctions bill on Nord Stream still has to pass Senate and House votes before landing at President Trump’s desk for him to sign into law.
U.S. lawmakers have sought to pass a bill to levy sanctions on the 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.
“This bipartisan bill would sanction companies operating vessels that lay pipes for the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines,” U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.
“These pipelines could result in further destabilization of Ukraine and enrichment of the Putin regime, and they put at risk the security of NATO member states. This bill is a specific, targeted, and timely way to counter Russian malign influence, and I am pleased that it garnered such broad support in our committee,” Risch said.
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The only companies that would be affected by the bill are Italy’s Saipem and Switzerland-based Allseas Group SA, Bloomberg quoted Senator Shaheen as saying on Wednesday.
In a joint statement with Senator Cruz, Senator Shaheen said: “The Nord Stream 2 project is another means by which Russia can spread its malign influence by exploiting Europe’s energy dependence – a tactic that the Kremlin has a history of deploying.”
Senator Cruz noted that “The United States must stand with our European allies, support energy diversity, and combat Russia’s economic blackmail,” and said on Twitter “Putin gets his revenues for military adventurism directly from petro-billions flowing into the country. This bill is exceptionally important as a matter of national security.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.