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In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Washington said it would waive sanctions about to be imposed on Germany-registered Nord Stream 2 AG, the operator of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline project.
The sanctions were suggested by a report sent to Congress by the State Department, which said in it that Nord Stream AG and its head, Matthias Warnig, engaged in a sanctionable activity, Reuters reported. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, however, said it was in the national interest to waive these sanctions.
Other sanctions the last two administrations have imposed on participants in the Nord Stream 2 project remain, including sanctions on four Russian vessels and five entities, including the country's Marine Rescue Service.
"Today's actions demonstrate the administration's commitment to energy security in Europe, consistent with the President's pledge to rebuild relationships with our allies and partners in Europe," Secretary Blinken said in a statement ahead of a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to discuss the Arctic.
Just two months ago, the same administration threatened all companies involved in the project with sanctions.
"As the President has said, Nord Stream 2 is a bad deal—for Germany, for Ukraine, and for our Central and Eastern European allies and partners," Secretary said in March. "The Department is tracking efforts to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and is evaluating information regarding entities that appear to be involved."
Meanwhile, Nord Stream 2 AG is forging ahead with the project. Germany authorized pipe-laying in its waters earlier his month for a two-kilometer stretch in its exclusive economic zone, after pipe-laying finished in Danish waters. The pipes will be stored in the stretch before they are laid along the pipeline route.
"After carefully weighing all interests, this permit was required for laying pipes for 2 km, so that they could be temporarily stored in the exclusive economic zone on the seabed until further construction," the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency said on Monday.
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.