Germany's federal maritime regulator BSH says the construction work on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline could be stopped for an indefinite period in German waters but opponents still need to give detailed reasons to justify the halt.

Two environmental groups this week filed complaints with BSH against a move to expand the period during which construction work could theoretically take place, effectively preventing further work on the pipeline for the time being, Reuters wrote on January 21.

Read alsoFund created in Germany to support Nord Stream 2 completionComplaints against the pipeline to transport gas from Russia to Germany and other European states now have to be backed by convincing arguments but there is no fixed deadline to file these, BSH President Karin Kammann-Klippstein told a news conference.

"It's not in our hands," she told journalists, saying BSH would assess any reasons swiftly once they were submitted.

The United States, a fierce opponent of Nord Stream 2, this week imposed sanctions on a ship involved in building the pipeline to take Russian natural gas to Europe.

Meanwhile, European Union lawmakers are expected to back a resolution on Thursday calling for the bloc to stop the completion of the pipeline in response to the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

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.
  • According to media reports, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden intends to do his best to prevent the construction of Nord Stream 2.
  • On November 4, 2020, the media reported that U.S. Congress wanted to expand sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream.
  • On December 4, 2020, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he doubted that the U.S. position on Nord Stream 2 would change after Joe Biden's inauguration.
  • 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 Trump's veto on the NDAA containing sanctions against Nord Stream 2.
  • The United States is calling on European allies and private companies to halt work on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and is preparing broader sanctions against the Russian project in the coming weeks.
  • The U.S. Senate approved the 2021 NDAA, which provides for new sanctions against Russia's Nord Stream 2.
  • On January 7, 2021, the Mecklenburg-West Pomerania government approved the creation of the Mecklenburg Climate Protection Fund whose main objective is to help complete the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline by bypassing U.S. sanctions.
  • On January 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State told European companies which it suspects are helping to build Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that they face the risk of seeing 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 participating in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The curbs on the Fortuna are expected to become effective as of January 19, 2021.