The US will expand sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. The sanctions will now affect companies that provide services or funding to install equipment on board the vessels that take part in the project. Such a move may permanently halt the construction of the pipeline.
The news to expand the sanctions was reported on the website of the US Department of State. Similar restrictions are to be imposed on the participants of the Turkish Stream and other similar projects.
The Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline provides for the construction of two sections of the gas pipeline system with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year from the coast of Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Originally, the construction of the pipeline system was supposed to be completed in 2019. However, the work on the project was suspended after US Congress passed a package of sanctions against the participants of the project.
The USA remains opposed to the project, claiming that it makes Europe overly dependent on Russian natural gas and increases political pressure on Ukraine, which transits natural gas further to Europe. Kiev and several countries of the European Union share the same position.
"Russia uses its energy export pipelines to create national and regional dependencies on Russian energy supplies, leveraging these dependencies to expand its political, economic, and military influence, weaken European security, and undermine U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. These pipelines also reduce European energy diversification, and hence weaken European energy security," the US State Department said in a statement.
Russia, Germany, Austria and a number of other countries, whose companies are involved in the construction, insist that this is nothing but a business project.
In late 2019, the United States imposed sanctions on Nord Stream-2, having demanded the companies involved in the construction should immediately stop their works on the project. Allseas, a Swiss company, pulled out of the project almost at once.
Representatives of Russia's natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, stated that they would be able to complete the construction of Nord Stream-2 independently. For the time being, one needs to finish the construction of the section that is 100 kilometres long. On October 17, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview with RND that the project would be completed.
The Turkish Stream gas pipeline system (TurkStream) directly connects gas transportation systems of Turkey and Russia and ensures energy supplies to Turkey, South and Southeast Europe. The project will enable the supplies of up to 31.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas to the region every year.
The offshore section of the system consists of two parallel threads that run along the bottom of the Black Sea. The offshore pipeline section begins near the city of Anapa in Russia and in 930 km comes ashore, near the village of Kiyikoy. "From the receiving terminal in Kiyikoy, one of the two underground onshore pipelines connects to the existing Turkish gas network at Luleburgaz. The other pipeline continues to the Turkish-European border, where it ends," the website dedicated to the project says.
Bulgaria implemented the capacities enabling it to receive natural gas from the TurkStream (the throughput capacity on the border with Turkey amounts to 19.9 billion cubic meters per year), but then a holdback occurred regarding the expansion of the pipeline to Serbia. Serbia has long reported the completion of the construction of 403 km of the linear part of the continuation of the Turkish Stream on its territory.
In 2020, all the trouble in the implementation of the contracts could be blamed for the pandemic. In 2019, however, the work could not begin due to disputes between contractors.
Almost a year ago, in December 2019, Russian President Putin expressed his harsh views about the construction of the project in Bulgaria. At a joint press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Putin said: "Despite all the assurance and repeated requests to the Russian side to ensure the supply of our natural gas through Turkey to Bulgaria, we can see that the Bulgarian side, strange as it may seem, deliberately delays the implementation of the project on its territory."
Bulgaria, with the help of the United States, launched a hasty program to diversify its gas supplies. For the time being, Bulgaria receives 100 percent of its natural gas from Russia. Until the end of 2020, Bulgaria is to receive at least a half of those three billion cubic meters from other suppliers. In January 2020, Bulgarian officials stated that Sofia and Washington were developing cooperation in the field of liquefied natural gas (LNG). As much as 50 percent of natural gas consumption in Bulgaria is to be diversified by the end of 2020, Bulgaria's Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said. In particular, Sofia eyes natural gas from Azerbaijan via TANAP gas pipeline.