In the race for completion, the second pipeline laying vessel joins Nord Stream 2

Pipe for Nord Stream 2 at the port of Mukran (Gerd Fahrenhorst / CC BY 4.0)

Posted on March 5, 2021 at 9:53 PM by

The maritime executive

A second Russian pipeline-laying vessel is expected to join Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 project, defying US sanctions in a race to completion.

The DP compatible pipe laying vessel Akademik Cherskiy will complete the sea trials and then begin work on the pipeline laying chain in Danish waters, the project consortium told Russian media in a statement. According to Argus, the Danish government confirms that work on the first parallel channel will start by the end of the month.

AIS tracking provided by The polar star show that Akademik Cherskiy took off from Wismar on March 4 and is now holding position in the Baltic Sea off Sassnitz, about 15 nm west of the Russian pipeline barge Fortuna. The Fortuna is already on site and functioning, with less than 100 miles of line left and 93 percent of the project completed.

The recent Biden administration situation report on Nord Stream 2 names the Fortuna and its owner, KVT-RUS, as designated entities having a role in the sanctioned project. However, both were already blacklisted during the Trump administration, and the designation is unlikely to have a significant effect. (Akademik Cherskiy is not sanctioned at this time.)

President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said they oppose the completion of Nord Stream 2, but Blinken will oppose unilateral sanctions against Western European companies involved in supporting the project. If completed, Nord Stream 2 would allow Russia to bypass onshore gas pipeline networks in Ukraine and Poland, allies of the United States, thereby providing a direct gas supply to Western Europe.

The threat of US sanctions had an impact on some participants. The DNV certification body withdrew from the project in January, citing the risk of exposure to penalties. German power company Uniper said on Thursday that it would not provide additional financing for the pipeline project in the future; the company recently told investors that it has so far made loans totaling around $ 850 million for Nord Stream 2. German entrepreneur Bilfinger has also pulled out of a contract for the supply of safety and process control equipment for the onshore gas receiving station in Lubmin, Germany.

Despite opposition from the United States, the Danish Maritime Authority has said it expects the pipeline to be completed by the end of September, according to Reuters.

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