Russia vows to complete Nord Stream 2 pipeline in 2020
Moscow, Russia - Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday that a controversial gas pipeline would be completed by the end of next year, adding Moscow could use its own pipe-laying vessel to skirt US sanctions.
Nord Stream 2, which aims to double Russia’s natural gas deliveries to Germany, was slated for completion in early 2020 with a view to being operational in mid2020.
The US has long opposed the US$10.6bn project and the US Senate voted recently to slap sanctions on firms working on it.
The American announcement of asset freezes and visa bans targeting companies involved in the project immediately led to Swiss pipe-laying contractor Allseas halting its work on the remaining stretches.
“Nord Stream 2 will be launched by the end of 2020,” Novak told reporters on Friday.
He said Russia could use its own vessel - The Academician Chersky - to finish laying the pipeline, adding it was currently stationed in the Far East.
“Some time is needed for additional preparations,” Novak added.
An Energy Ministry source said the vessel would have to be outfitted with necessary equipment.
Earlier last week President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Russia has ‘certain capacity’ to finish the project ‘in the foreseeable future’ but declined to provide details.
The pipe-laying vessel has been operated by Gazprom Fleet, a subsidiary of gas giant Gazprom since 2016.
Washington insists the pipeline would give Russia too much influence over security and economic issues in western Europe.
In this file photo taken on March 26, works are under way at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, northeastern Germany