Politics Regional

UnFORTUNAte Nord Stream-2

On August 3, it was announced that the UOKIK, Polish state antitrust regulator had fined Gazprom 57 million euros for refusing to cooperate and provide the necessary information on the Nord Stream-2 construction. It was reported that the required information concerns the financing of the project and the participation of foreign oil and gas companies, which have the status of investors in the pipeline operator – Nord Stream 2 AG.
The fine imposed on Gazprom is the maximum possible under Polish law. Earlier, similar measures were applied to the French Engie, which also refused to cooperate with Warsaw.

It was Poland that found a provision that precludes from creation of a consortium of companies that would build Nord Stream-2 without prior consent of Warsaw, because the companies that would build the gas pipeline would also operate in Poland.

As soon as on August 5, the Russian company MRTS stated it’s unwillingness to provide a pipe-laying barge “Fortuna” for the completion of the construction of the Russian “Nord Stream-2” export gas pipeline.

“Fortuna” barge, which (according to the Marine Traffic) stays now in the German port of Rostock, was named by analysts (for example, the industry title ICIS, Platts Analytcs analytical service, etc.) as one of the candidates for the completion of “Nord Stream-2”, suspended in December 2019 due to US sanctions. Late last year, the US Congress passed a law threatening secondary sanctions against the owners of Nord Stream 2 pipelayers. Immediately afterwards, the Swiss-Dutch firm Allseas shut down offshore construction.

In July, the US Department of State changed its public guidance on the application of Article 232 of CAATSA, extending it to the Nord Stream 2 project. US sanctions now threaten foreign companies investing in Nord Stream-2. In addition, both versions of the Pentagon’s budget bill passed by the House of Representatives and the US Senate included alleged additional sanctions against companies providing vessels for the construction of the Nord Stream 2.

Withdrawal of “Fortune” from participation in the completion of “Nord Stream-2” actually leaves Academician Chersky as the only pipelayer in the project. However, probably a new permit from Denmark may be required to involve Chechersky in the pipeline construction. The vessel itself needs to be adapted to work with big diameter pipes.

However, Nord Stream 2 has not yet provided the Danish Energy Agency with a new pipe routing schedule for the unfinished pipeline section. In the light of the expected extension of US sanctions, such deliberation raises questions regarding the fact and terms of possible finishing of such controversial project.

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