The German federal energy regulator says it is temporarily halting the approval process for the controversial Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline aimed at bringing Russian gas to Germany.
The Federal Network Agency, or Bundesnetzagentur, announced in a statement on November 16 that it has suspended the certification procedure for the recently completed pipeline after concluding that “it would only be possible to certify an operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if that operator was organized in a legal form under German law."
Bundesnetzagentur said that a subsidiary set up to govern the German part of the pipeline did not fulfil the conditions to be an "independent transmission operator."
The certification procedure would be suspended until "the main assets and human resources have been transferred to the subsidiary" and this step has been verified, it added.
The announcement comes as Europe, which receives a third of its gas from Russia, is battling surging energy prices as the continent heads into the winter season.
The Baltic Sea pipeline is set to double Russian gas supplies to Germany, which the EU's biggest economy says is needed to help it transition away from coal and nuclear energy.
But critics say Nord Stream will increase the EU’s energy reliance on Russia, while enabling Moscow to reroute gas exports to Europe around Ukraine, depriving the cash-strapped country of billions of dollars a year in transit fees