Germany is betting the U.S. administration will take a pragmatic approach to the Nord Stream 2 project to ship Russian gas to Europe and is pushing for the pipeline's completion in defiance of U.S. opposition.
"The pipeline is already around 95% built, and could be finished by September, analysts who monitor tracking data say, leaving the Biden administration little time to come up with more measures to thwart it," Reuters wrote, referring to diplomats and officials.
Read alsoTimmermans: Europe doesn't need Nord Stream 2The previous and current U.S. administrations used sanctions to block the US$11 billion project.
U.S. President Joe Biden thinks the pipeline is "a bad idea for Europe."
If it works, Ukraine will lose revenue from transit shipments of Russian gas. In addition, the pipeline will increase European energy dependency on Russia and compete with shipments of U.S. liquefied natural gas.
"Berlin is trying to buy time and make sure that the construction is finished, because they think that once the pipeline is onstream, things will look differently (to the United States)," a senior EU diplomat said.
Nord Stream 2: Background
- The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction and operation of two gas pipeline branches with a total throughput capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. It should connect Russia's Ust-Lug and Germany's Greifswald. This new pipeline bypassing Ukraine is to be built next to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
- The construction of the pipeline was expected to be completed before the end of 2019.
- The pipeline will be 1,220 km long. The project is being implemented by Russia's Gazprom in alliance with European companies – ENGIE, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall. Ukraine stands against the construction of Nord Stream 2 as it will most likely lose its status of a gas transit country, while its potential revenue losses are estimated at US$3 billion annually. The project is also highly criticized by the U.S., Poland, and the Baltic States.
- On November 4, 2020, the media reported that U.S. Congress wanted to expand sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream.
- On December 6, 2020, United States Charge d'Affaires to Germany Robin Quinville called on the EU and Germany to declare a moratorium on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
- On December 9, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with expanded restrictions against the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
- On December 11, 2020, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline resumed.
- On December 29, 2020, it became known that the House of Representatives overcame the then President Donald Trump's veto on the U.S. defense budget with sanctions on Nord Stream 2.
- The United States is urging European allies and private companies to halt works on Nord Stream 2, and is preparing broader sanctions against the Russian project in the coming weeks.
- The U.S. Senate approved the U.S. defense budget for the fiscal year 2021, which provides for new sanctions against Russia's Nord Stream 2.
- On January 7, 2021, a fund was established in Germany to support the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project.
- On January 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State notified European companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 of the risk of imposing new sanctions.
- On January 18, 2021, the United States warned allies in Europe about its intention to impose sanctions on the Russian ship Fortuna, which is engaged in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
- On February 22, 2021, the United States imposed new sanctions on the Russian FORTUNA vessel building Nord Stream 2.
- As of February 23, 2021, eighteen European companies at once refused to complete the construction of Nord Stream 2 over the U.S. sanctions.
- On March 4, 2021, the construction of Nord Stream 2 in Danish waters was extended by late September.