Despite obstacles including the threat of U.S. sanctions, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is “past the point of no return”, the head of Russian state gas giant Gazprom Alexei Miller said on Friday, according to Lenta.ru.
“We are working from the idea that Nord Stream 2 will be realized strictly in accordance with the planned timetable,” Miller said at an annual shareholders meeting in Saint Petersburg.
The politically contentious Nord Stream 2 is a $12-billion link that will run under the Baltic Sea, doubling Russian gas shipments to Germany, EU’s biggest economy. The project by Gazprom and several big European energy companies has drawn harsh criticism from neighboring states as well as the U.S., which insists the pipeline will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.
Miller said he believes the pipeline would be completed by the end of this year and in service from the start of 2020. The final major hurdle to clear in the construction of Nord Stream 2 is obtaining an agreement from Denmark that the pipeline can cross its exclusive economic zone, situated outside its territorial waters.
But Miller said, “Work is going ahead. The project has been past the point of no return for some time already, there are no legal means whatsoever to stop the work.”
It has also raised fears that Moscow will be able to increase pressure on Ukraine as Europe will be less reliant on the country for transiting supplies. Today the vast majority of Russian gas to Europe transits via Ukraine. However, the current transit deal between Kiev and Moscow expires at the end of 2019 and the estranged neighbors have not been able to come to a fresh agreement.
U.S. President Donald Trump has meanwhile threatened to hit Nord Stream 2 and the companies involved in it with sanctions. Gazprom’s European partners in the project are Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie and the Anglo-Dutch major Shell. They finance 50 percent of the construction.