Nord Stream 2 Pipe-Laying Vessel Nears Project Hub

Russian pipe-laying vessel Akademik Cherskiy, expected to be used to finish the Moscow-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, is heading towards the German project hub of Mukran, Reuters reported citing Refinitiv Eikon data.

According to the ship tracking data, the vessel is due to arrive at Mukran port – where pipes for the Nord Stream 2 are stored – on Tuesday Oct. 27, having been near the Russian port of Kaliningrad since early October.

The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which Moscow wants to build on the bed of the Baltic Sea to Germany to double the existing Nord Stream pipeline’s capacity, has become a focal point of Russian tensions with the West.

Critics of the pipeline say it will increase Europe’s reliance on Russian gas. The Kremlin last week said that U.S. sanctions targeting the project were unfriendly and destructive.

Construction of the 1,230 km pipeline is nearly finished but a final stretch of about 120 km in Danish waters still needs to be laid.

Work was halted in December when pipe-laying company Swiss-Dutch Allseas suspended operations after U.S. sanctions targeted companies providing vessels to lay the pipes.

Nord Stream 2 is led by Russian gas giant Gazprom GAZP.MM, with half of the funding provided by Germany’s Uniper UN01.DE and BASF’s BASFn.DE Wintershall unit, Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell RDSa.L, Austria’s OMV OMVV.VI and Engie ENGIE.PA