Russian energy giant Gazprom said in a statement on Friday (Sept. 10) that the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been fully completed.
“Chairman of the Management Committee Alexei Miller said that this morning at 8.45 Moscow time (05:45 GMT) construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was fully completed,” Gazprom said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Miller announced the first gas deliveries via the new pipeline are expected before the end of the year. The 10-billion-euro underwater pipeline follows the same route as Nord Stream 1, which was completed over a decade ago.
Owned by Gazprom, with investment from Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, France’s Engie, the Anglo-Dutch firm Shell and Austria’s OMV, Nord Stream 2 is running from Russia to northeastern Germany across the Baltic Sea and is expected to supply energy to approximately 26 million households a year, with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters.
Gazprom started the construction of the 1,200-km long pipeline five years ago. The progress of the project was halted in the end of 2019 when the then U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions against it. The construction restarted around a year later with the engagement of Russia’s own vessels.
The project has divided European capitals as critics say the pipelines would increase Russia’s influence in Europe, and because of the large reduction of transit fees for use of alternative pipelines in Central and Eastern European countries.
Russia and Germany- Europe’s top economy which imports around 40% of its gas from Russia- insist Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project.
“Gazprom has always approached Nord Stream 2 as an economic project. Its goal is to provide reliable, stable and diversified supplies of gas to the market of the European Union. It also aims to reduce the cost of gas for end consumers via a shorter transportation route that reaches Germany almost 2,000 kilometers ahead of the route traversing the gas transmission system of Ukraine, as well as to ensure compliance with all current environmental requirements. For instance, СО2 emissions from Nord Stream 2 are 5.6 times lower thanks to, among other things, a reduced number of compressor stations compared to the Ukrainian route” Miller told media on July 22.
The US has also been highly critical of the pipeline, but President Joe Biden ultimately reached an accord with Berlin to tolerate the project under certain conditions.
On July 20, Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached a conclusive deal that the U.S. may trigger sanctions if Russia uses Nord Stream as a “political weapon”. The deal aims to prevent Poland and Ukraine from being cut off from Russian gas supplies. The two leaders also agreed to support Ukraine and Poland by funding alternative energy and development projects.