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Work Resumes On Controversial Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, Gazprom Says


Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in storage at the port of Mukran, Germany

Work has resumed in Baltic Sea waters off the German coast on the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline, project managers said in a statement on December 11.

The statement said the pipe-laying vessel Fortuna is laying a 2.6-kilometer section of the pipe “in the German Exclusive Economic Zone.”

The same day, Germany’s Authority of Waterways and Shipping Management warned mariners to avoid the construction area for the rest of the month, saying that “anchoring or fishing is not permitted in the area of the planned pipeline.”

Work on the $11 billion pipeline, which will double Russian natural-gas deliveries to Germany, has been suspended since late 2019 after the United States approved asset freezes and visa restrictions on companies involved in the project.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has harshly criticized Germany and other European countries for relying on Russia for energy. Other nations, including Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states also oppose the pipeline, arguing that Moscow has a record of using its energy supplies to exert political pressure.

The U.S. Embassy in Berlin on December 5 called on the German government to halt construction of the pipeline.

"Now is the time for Germany and the EU to call for a moratorium for the pipeline's construction," Robin Quinville, charge d'affaires at the embassy, told the newspaper Handelsblatt on December 5.

This would send a clear signal that Europe "no longer accepts Russia's sustained malevolent behavior," she said.

Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom has a majority stake in the project, while Germany’s Wintershall and Uniper groups, joint Dutch-British oil major Shell, France’s Engie, and Austria’s OMV are also participating.

Russia has pledged to complete the project using its own resources despite U.S. opposition. The pipeline still has 16 kilometers left to be built in German waters and another 60 kilometers in the Danish section.

Russia, which initially expected to complete the pipeline in early 2020, has accused the United States of using energy sanctions as a "weapon" to open new markets for its oil and gas industry.

After the U.S. sanctions were passed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped the pipeline would be completed by early 2021.

The first phase of the project, Nord Stream 1, began operation in 2011.

With reporting by dpa, AP, and AFP
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