2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Nord Stream 2 Land Drop Facility on Lubmin 2/2
By Timothy Gardner and Daphne Psaledakis WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department this month told European companies it suspects they are helping build Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline that they face the risk of sanctions as the administration Outgoing Trump is preparing a final round of punitive measures against the bill, two sources said Tuesday. “We are trying to inform companies about the risk and urge them to withdraw before it is too late,” a US government source said on condition of anonymity. The US source said the State Department is expected to issue a report Thursday or Friday on companies it believes are helping the Russia-Germany pipeline. Companies that could be in the report include those that provide insurance, help install the subsea pipeline, or verify the project’s construction equipment, the source said. Businesses could be at risk of US penalties under existing law if they don’t stop working. Zurich Insurance Group (OTC 🙂 could appear in the report, the source said. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The $ 11 billion gas pipeline, one of Russia’s most important projects in Europe, has sparked tensions between Washington and Moscow. The Trump administration is opposed to Nord Stream 2, which would deprive Ukraine of lucrative transit fees, saying it would increase Russia’s economic and political influence over Europe. The administration has also boosted exports of US liquids to Europe, a fuel that competes with piped gas from Russia. The Kremlin says Nord Stream 2, run by state power company Gazprom (MCX :), is a commercial project. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, also says the pipeline is simply commercial. It needs gas as it closes nuclear and coal plants for environmental and safety reasons. The president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden, opposed the project when he was vice president of Barack Obama. It is not known if he would be willing to commit to the project after January 20, when he takes office. Gazprom halted construction on Nord Stream 2 for a year after US sanctions in December 2019. But work has resumed as Gazprom hopes to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea to double the line’s capacity. existing. The project is 90% complete with only a 62 mile (100 km) stretch in deep water off Denmark to be completed. A US-based industry source who has seen the State Department communications said that European companies, including German ones, received inquiries from the Trump administration in recent months, dating back to October, about their Nord Stream 2 related activities. The State Department asked companies in October if they were involved with Nord Stream 2 and if any work continued after July 15, and the value of any services or support. On that date, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned investors in Russia’s Nord Stream 2 and Turkstream pipelines that they could face sanctions under the United States’ Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. 2017. On January 1, the State Department contacted again with an urgent request. the industry source said, requesting to set up a call that weekend with Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Resources, Melissa Simpson, to discuss details of the companies’ closing activities. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.