US mulls sanctions for European firms over Nord Stream 2

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The US State Department addressed European companies and reaffirmed threat to impose sanctions targeted at everyone involved in the construction Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Reuters reported.

The administration of outgoing US president Donald Trump initiated the final round of punitive measures, “We are trying to inform companies of the risk and urge them to pull out before it’s too late,” a US government source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The US source confirmed that the State Department is expected to issue a report by Thursday or Friday on companies it believes are helping the Russia-to-Germany pipeline. Companies that could be in the report include ones providing insurance, helping to lay the undersea pipeline, or verify the project’s construction equipment, the source said. The companies could be at risk of US sanctions under existing law if they do not stop work.

The $11 billion pipeline, one of Russia’s most important projects in Europe, has sparked tensions between Washington and Moscow.The Trump administration opposes Nord Stream 2, which would deprive Ukraine of lucrative transit fees, saying it would increase Russia’s economic and political leverage over Europe. The administration has also pushed exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas to Europe, a fuel that competes with pipelined gas from Russia.The Kremlin says Nord Stream 2, led by state energy company Gazprom, is a commercial project.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, also says the pipeline is simply commercial. It needs gas as it shuts coal and nuclear plants on environmental and safety concerns.

US President-elect Joe Biden opposed the project when he was vice president under Barack Obama. It is uncertain whether he would be willing to compromise on the project after Jan. 20 when he takes over.

Gazprom’s Western partners in the project are Germany’s Uniper, BASF’s Wintershall Dea, Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell, Austria’s OMV and Engie.

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