TOPIC PAGE: Nord Stream 2
LONDON (ICIS)–The Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline will double Russia’s direct export capacity to Germany as a first entry point to the EU to 110 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year.
Its supporters, including Germany and other west-European member states, see it as a commercially sensible project, but its opponents, led by Poland and the US, consider it as a threat to the EU’s security and diversity of supply.
In December 2019, US sanctions forced key pipelaying vessels to stop working on the project. In mid-January, President Putin said Russia could finish building the pipeline on its own but its completion would be delayed to up to the end of 2020 or in the first quarter of 2021.
The Russian pipeline was initially scheduled for completion by the end of 2019. Delays beyond 2020 could restrain Russia’s pipeline export capacity to the EU.
This topic page brings together updates from ICIS on the pipeline’s progress and the impact it is having on energy markets.
ICIS EXPLAINS: Nord Stream 2 delays
Before Russian gas can flow to Germany via the new 55 billion cubic metres (bcm)/year Nord Stream 2 pipe, the section of the pipeline located in German territorial waters needs to be certified compliant with EU and German legislation.
ICIS explains what is at stake in this procedure and how commissioning is increasingly likely to be delayed beyond this winter.
The German regulator BNetzA put the certification procedure on hold since 16 November because more administrative work and documents are required.
The section of the pipeline in German territorial waters is to be owned and operated by a Germany-based subsidiary of the entity that owns and operates the rest (and majority) of the pipeline.
When suspending the certification, BNetzA said that the new subsidiary must fulfil the unbundling requirements of an independent transmission operator (ITO) set out in the German Energy Industry Act.
According to this act, vertically integrated energy supply companies can name an independent transport network operator for a network connected to a third country for the section in German territorial waters, if the network was owned by the vertically integrated energy supply company on 23 May 2019.
Senior fellow at the Centre for Eastern Studies Agata Loskot-Strachota said there may be a chance that BNetzA finds out that it cannot grant ITO status to the new subsidiary as neither the pipeline nor this subsidiary existed prior to 23 May 2019.
The certification procedure will resume once the creation of this subsidiary is complete and all required documents for this new entity have been submitted to BNetzA.
The suspension of the certification procedure could last from several weeks to several months, according to industry experts. BNetzA said on 16 December that the procedure is likely not to be completed in the first half of next year, confirming previous expectations that the pipeline would not flow gas this winter.
“BNetzA will not rush and will process all required documents so that later it will be more difficult for Poland to dispute the decision in court,” said Igor Yushkov, an expert of the National Energy Security Fund and the Financial University under the government of the Russian Federation.
According to a document sent by the German embassy in Washington to Congress in late November, the procedure will be suspended presumably for two months. The document has a timeline showing BNetzA submitting its preliminary decision to the European Commission in March, the commission issuing its opinion between May and July and BNetzA making a final decision between July and September.
BNetzA told ICIS in mid-November that when the main assets and human resources have been transferred to the subsidiary and BNetzA is able to check whether the documentation resubmitted by the subsidiary is complete, it will resume its examination in the remainder of the four-month period. The procedure officially started on 8 September, was suspended on 16 November, meaning BNetzA has roughly six weeks left to make a preliminary decision once it resumes the procedure. The European Commission will then have up to four months to issue an opinion, after which BNetzA will have two months to make a final decision.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia worsened amid a recent military build-up near their common border.
On 16 December, the European Parliament passed a resolution with a vast majority condemning the Russian military build-up and urging that Nord Stream 2 should not be made operational, regardless of whether it complies with EU legislation at some point.
On 7 December, the US president’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a White House press briefing that “the future of Nord Stream 2, in the context of an invasion of Ukraine by Russia in the coming weeks, is a topic of utmost priority.”
During the G7 summit, on 12 December, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US said in a joint statement that “Russia should be in no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe cost in response,” without further details.
On the same day, Germany’s new foreign minister Annalena Baerbock clearly indicated one possible consequence saying on German TV that in the event of further escalation, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would not be able to proceed.
But there is no consensus on this among EU member states, as Austrian foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg indicated ahead of the EU Council meeting of 13 December saying the pipeline is finished and we should start using it. Austrian utility OMV is one of the six investors in Nord Stream 2, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall also invested in the project.
Baerbock and her party – the Greens – criticised the pipeline in the past. Now the Greens are in the new German coalition and occupy key government positions like the foreign ministry (Baerbock) and the energy and economy ministry (Robert Habeck). These positions could affect the future of the pipeline. BNetzA is supposed to be independent of government in its certification decision, but foreign policy can dictate what is bought from whom through the use of sanctions, said Michael Grossmann, managing partner at Paris-based energy consultancy Tumbleweed Partners.
A source in German government circles told ICIS that the Greens will probably do their best to prevent the pipeline’s commissioning, and that even if the certification was approved once all requirements are met, the pipeline’s launch may still be postponed because of the situation in Ukraine or elsewhere.
RUSSIA/UKRAINE TRANSIT DEAL
Nord Stream 2’s delayed launch might be linked to Germany’s July commitment to use all available leverage to facilitate an extension of up to 10 years of the Ukraine transit agreement with Russia.
Under the current transit deal Russia has committed to purchase 65 billion cubic metres (bcm) of transit capacity via Ukraine in 2020 and 40bcm/year in 2021-2024.
Sending more volumes via Ukraine is not commercially beneficial for Russia, Putin said in early October. In any case, the volumes and duration of any future transit deal would depend on several factors including
– EU gas demand, which is uncertain in the context of the energy transition
– EU companies’ readiness to renew long-term contracts with Russia
– the competitiveness of transit tariffs proposed by Ukraine beyond 2024
ICIS calculated that Russia’s long-term pipeline supply contracts with its 20 largest EU customers were set to fall to around 130bcm by 2030, down from around 176bcm in 2021.
If Europe wants Ukrainian transit to continue, then Europe must buy more Russian gas, more than what can be transported via the routes bypassing Ukraine, then Russia will be forced to send gas via Ukraine, Yushkov said. Since Germany pledged in July to help preserve transit in every possible way Russia will now say “you have pledged to help preserve transit, so buy more of our gas, this will be your contribution to preserving transit,” Yushkov said adding that this is how he sees Russia’s position.
The option of booking only via quarterly, monthly and daily auctions like for the Polish transit route may be attractive to Russia as it gives more flexibility, but less so for Ukraine which has a more extensive and older transit network to maintain than Poland and so might prefer longer-term guarantees of revenues.
Meanwhile, Wolfgang Peters, managing director at consultancy The Gas Value Chain, said Germany’s July pledge is a best endeavour clause at best.
The European Commission’s recent proposal to reform the EU gas sector to align it with the bloc’s energy transition targets is, according to Peters, “another aspect which may make the respective politicians perhaps think twice” about promoting Ukrainian transit extensions.
A ban on long-term supply contracts for unabated fossil gas lasting beyond 2049 is included in the reform proposed by the commission on 15 December. According to Gazprom, sending 55bcm via Nord Stream 2 will save almost 9 million tons of CO2 emissions/year compared to sending the same volume via Ukraine, while an independent study from DBI shows it will save 11 million tons of CO2/year.
TTF front month jumps as German regulator reiterates Nord Stream 2 certification timeline
Germany’s energy regulator BNetzA on Thursday said the final decision on the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline cannot be expected in the first half of 2022, which sent new bullish signals across European wholesale natural gas markets.
As the German regulator referred to the final decision on the pipeline’s certification, the timeline broadly matches market expectations from earlier announcements.
Nevertheless, the Dutch TTF January ‘22 contract gained €3/MWh on the back of the news around 10:30am London time but receded before noon. Headlines around Nord Stream 2 certification process have been a major driver for European hubs amid low level of gas in storage sites. After reaching a new record high at Wednesday’s close the TTF front month opened the Thursday session higher still, prior to the BNetzA announcement.
Initially, when the certification procedure started on 8 September, the deadline for BNetzA to make the final decision was 8 July. But the procedure was suspended in mid-November due to more administrative work and documents being required from the project’s promoters.
As the procedure remains suspended since then, it was to be expected that the initial 8 July deadline could be pushed back to a later date next year.
The German regulator has up to four months to make a draft decision on whether the pipeline is compliant with EU and German legislation.
With the procedure having officially started on 8 September and having been suspended on 16 November, the German regulator will have roughly six weeks to make a draft decision once it resumes the procedure.
There is currently no indication on when the procedure could restart. But a document sent by the German embassy in Washington to the US Congress in late November indicated that a draft decision could be made in March, followed by the European Commission issuing its position between May and July and the final decision made between July and September.
This already indicated expectations of delays well into the second half of next year, which was confirmed by today’s statement from BNetzA.
After the German regulator makes its draft decision it must submit it to the commission.
The commission will then have two months, extendable by another two months, to issue an opinion on the regulator’s draft decision.
Once the commission has issued its opinion, the German regulator has two months to make a final decision.
While the German regulator has to take into account the commission’s opinion, it does not have to follow it if it disagrees with it. The German regulator has the final word on whether to certify Nord Stream 2 compliant with EU and German legislation.
8 December 2021
US Congress could refrain from new Nord Stream 2 sanctions
The US Congress could refrain from new sanctions targeting Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
On 7 December the US House of Representatives passed a new version of a key US annual legislation called the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) which sets the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and must traditionally be passed by the end of the current year. The text now requires the vote of the US Senate, if passed in the Senate it will be submitted to president Biden and will enter into force once signed by the president.
Initially, the House of Representatives’ proposed NDAA text contained provisions that would have directed the US president to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 while the Senate’s proposed NDAA text did not. The new NDAA text passed by the house on 7 December (with 373 votes for and 70 against) does not contain more sanctions against the Russian pipeline, according to the explanatory statement to accompany the NDAA.
In previous NDAAs, Congress added new sanctions against the Russian project, which led to significant delays in its construction initially expected for late 2019 but only completed in September 2021. Previous NDAAs’ sanctions targeted those providing pipelaying vessels, port services, certification, testing, inspection and certification for the construction, completion or operation of Nord Stream 2.
In July, in a joint statement with the US, Germany, where Nord Stream 2 lands, committed to utilize all available leverage to facilitate an extension of up to ten years to Ukraine’s gas transit agreement with Russia.
Ukraine and Russia currently have a five-year transit deal running from 2019 until 2024 and guaranteeing the purchase by Russia of 65billion cubic metres (bcm) of transit capacity via Ukraine in 2020 and 40bcm/year in 2021-2024.
“US sanctions targeting Nord Stream 2 would undermine the commitment given to Germany in the Joint Statement, weaken the credibility of the US government, and endanger the achievements of the Joint Statement, including the provisions supporting Ukraine. They would ultimately damage transatlantic unity,” a document sent by the German embassy in Washington to Congress in late November said.
NORD STREAM 2
Nord Stream 2 is a direct Russia-Germany pipeline under the Baltic Sea with a 55bcm/year capacity. It would allow Russia to rely less on transit routes via Ukraine and Poland. These transit routes have been the historical supply routes to the European market and the sources of several disputes over prices and volumes between transit countries and Russia.
Before Russia can send gas via Nord Stream 2, the section of the pipeline located in German territorial waters needs to be certified compliant with EU and German legislation.
The process for certification has been suspended by the German regulator BNetzA since mid-November because more administrative work is required to continue the process.
The section of the pipe in German waters is to be owned and operated by a Germany-based subsidiary of the entity that owns and operates the rest (and majority) of the pipeline.
The certification process will resume once the creation of the subsidiary is complete and all required documents for this new entity have been submitted to BNetzA. This means the pipeline’s start date is still very uncertain.
27 October 2021
German energy ministry green lights Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
The German economy and energy ministry green-lighted Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Tuesday.
The ministry assessed the pipeline’s impact on German and EU gas supply security and concluded the project does not endanger it.
The ministry’s assessment is now with German regulator BNetzA which will decide whether the project is compliant with German and EU law.
6 October 2021
Nord Stream 2 may be allowed to challenge EU rules in court
Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline operator can challenge the European Gas Directive at the EU General Court, advocate general of the EU Court of Justice Michal Bobek said on Wednesday.
The EU benchmark TTF front month contract reacted to the news falling by €7/MWh to €123/MWh in the early morning, before rising again just a few minutes later. By 11:00 London time, the contract had risen to over €141/MWh, ICIS assessments showed.
The EU Gas Directive was changed in February 2019 to extend EU rules on unbundling, third-party access and tariff transparency to pipelines outside the EU. Previously these rules only applied to pipelines located inside the EU, they now apply to all pipelines connecting the EU to third countries like Russia. The changes to the directive allowed pipelines to be exempted from unbundling, third-party access and tariff transparency rules provided they met specific conditions at the time the new directive entered into force in February 2020. Nord Stream 2 was the only third-country pipeline that did not meet those conditions.
The promoters of the Russian project said the new directive is discriminatory against their project and in July 2019 they launched a legal proceeding to annul the new directive, which the EU General Court dismissed. The promoters appealed this decision at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which has the authority to annul the General Court’s decision. On 6 October, the ECJ’s advocate general said Nord Stream 2 AG is entitled to challenge the directive and the ECJ should annul the General Court’s decision. The advocate general’s opinion is not binding and the ECJ judges will give their decision at a later date.
The General Court had dismissed Nord Stream 2 AG’s action on the basis that the directive cannot be of direct concern to Nord Stream 2 AG since it is a directive and needs to be transposed into a national law.
But the ECJ advocate general said that the directive is of direct concern to Nord Stream 2 AG because “in reality, the relevant authorities [here, the German authorities] have no genuine discretion as to the manner in which the main EU act [here the EU Gas Directive] must be implemented.”
According to Michael Grossmann, managing partner at Paris-based energy consultancy Tumbleweed Partners, the advocate general discusses whether the changes made to the directive in 2019 are an implementation guideline or an extension of the directive’s scope. In the latter case it cannot be applicable because a law cannot have a retroactive effect on pre-existing activity, Grossmann added.
The advocate general also said that in order to comply with the directive’s unbundling rule, Nord Stream 2 AG will have to either sell the entire Nord Stream 2 pipeline or sell the part of the pipeline falling under German jurisdiction, or transfer the ownership of the pipeline to a separate subsidiary. Unbundling is the separation of the owner of the pipeline and the owner of the gas that flows in it. Russian gas producer Gazprom fully owns Nord Stream 2 and is the only company legally allowed to use Russia’s export pipelines.
The advocate general found that the General Court was wrong to withdraw from the Nord Stream 2 case two documents Nord Stream 2 AG had submitted as evidence.
He also found that the changes in the new EU Gas Directive:
are of direct and individual concern to Nord
Stream 2 AG
affect only the Nord Stream 2 pipeline
place Nord Stream 2 in a unique position because unlike all other third-country pipelines, it cannot benefit from any derogation or exemption from the directive.
13 September 2021
Nord Stream 2 gas flows may be delayed into 2022
The Russia-Germany offshore pipeline needs to be certified compliant with EU rules such as unbundling. German regulator BNetzA has until 8 January 2022 to make a draft decision and submit it to the European Commission.
The commission has two months to examine BNetzA’s draft decision, but this can be extended by another two months. The commission has not been supportive of Nord Stream 2 and so is likely to examine the decision with particular caution and scrutiny.
Operating a gas pipeline without certification by BNetzA may be sanctioned by a non-compliance procedure, BNetzA told ICIS.
10 September 2021
Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline fully built
The construction of the second and last line of the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline was completed on 10 September, the project backers announced.
Russia’s state-owned oil producer Rosneft has asked to be allowed to export gas via Nord Stream 2, Russian deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak confirmed earlier in September. Novak also said that Russian ministries were looking into Rosneft’s request, and that once they adopt a position on it, the question will be discussed in the government.
19 August 2021
Russia’s Nord Stream 2 may carry 5.6bcm gas in 2021 – Gazprom
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline may carry 5.6 billion cubic metres (bcm) this year, Russian producer Gazprom said on Thursday in a statement that led the Dutch and British front-month products to lose value.
The volume Gazprom plans to flow via the pipeline represent around 10% of its capacity. The project has been delayed since late 2019 due to US sanctions but it is now over 99% complete, with one line fully built and the second line expected to be finished by the end of the month.
Nord Stream 2’s design capacity is enough to carry around 12% of all the gas consumed in the EU and the UK in 2020.
Gazprom did not provide an expected start-up date for the pipeline.
The TTF and NBP September ’21 were down more than 9% by 11:00 London time as the announcement – the first official estimate from the Russian producer – hit the wider market.
12 July 2021
Gas injection demand could limit Nord Stream 2 market impact
European price risk could soften initially if firm information on Nord Stream 2’s commissioning is announced, however injection demand is likely to limit downside, according to market sources.
Russian supply capacity to Germany as a first entry point to the EU is set to double to 110 billion cubic metres per year when the pipeline comes online.
The head of Nord Stream 2, Matthias Warnig, said the goal is for the pipeline to be in operation this year, according to an interview published in German newspaper Handelsblatt on 11 July.
Nord Stream 2 confirmed the comments to ICIS on Monday, in which Warnig said the pipeline was 98% complete with construction work set to finish by the end of August.
2 July 2021
US House subcommittee looks to repeal Nord Stream 2 sanctions waiver
On 1 July the US House of Representatives subcommittee on state, foreign operations and related programmes called for a repeal on the sanctions waiver on the promoters of the Russia-Germany Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.
22 June 2021
Nord Stream 2 gas pipe: first flows and alternative supply routes in case of delays
Pre-commissioning activities might delay the commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which might prompt Russia’s state-controlled company Gazprom to book additional capacity via Ukraine, experts told ICIS.
The first of the two lines forming the Nord Stream 2 link was finished earlier in June and pre-commissioning activities are underway. ICIS outlines how the next steps may delay commercial flows, and which are the potential alternative delivery routes for Russian gas this winter.
20 May 2021
US waives sanctions on Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline promoters
The Biden administration waived sanctions on the promoters of the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Wednesday.
There is now little, if anything, undermining the construction phase of the project. Earlier this week, the head of the Russian state duma (lower house of parliament) energy committee Pavel Zavalny said construction can be completed in one-to-two months. Several factors indicate the promoters are more likely to aim to finish pipelay this summer.
18 May 2021
Nord Stream 2 pipelay may be finished in 1-2 months
Pipelay for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline can be completed in one to two months, head of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) energy committee Pavel Zavalny was quoted in Russian media as saying on Monday.
The project is composed of two parallel lines directly connecting Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea and has a total transportation capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year. Both lines have the same capacity (27.5bcm/year). Around 5% of the project is left to build in Danish and German waters.
Construction of the pipeline is underway with two Russian pipelaying vessels, Fortuna and Akademik Chersky in Danish waters. On Tuesday, the project promoters said there were still around 93km in Denmark and 28km in Germany left to lay.
There are still 13.9km to finish on the first
line and 16.5 km on the second line, the German
Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency told
ICIS on Monday.
The Fortuna pipelayer will lay pipes in German waters between 22 May and 30 June, the German Water and Shipping Authority announced in a notice to mariners on Monday.
The German construction permit allows pipelay in German waters between the end of May and the end of September, but the German maritime agency recently allowed a 2 km section to be built before the end of May.
German parliamentary elections in September could affect the pipeline project as a change of leadership could mean the current German support for the project would also change.
Russia may also want to push for the project
completion before then so as to be able to use
some of its capacity to send gas for the winter
This year, cool weather in April and May left EU stocks much lower than in 2020 and slowed down the pace at which stocks are refilled.
Stocks increased by only 940 million cubic metres (mcm) to 24.6bcm between 1 April and 11 May, data from storage system operators in 18 member states showed. As a comparison, stocks had increased by 10bcm to 38.8bcm during the same period on average during 2016-2020.
This means it will likely take longer to refill
stocks, which are usually refilled between
April and September.
Russian state-owned gas producer Gazprom fully owns the Nord Stream 2 project. Europe is Russia’s main export market and Gazprom supplies about one third of its annual demand. Diane Elijah
27 April 2021
Second Russian pipelayer starts building Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
A second Russian pipelayer started laying Nord Stream 2 pipes on Tuesday, the project promoters said. The direct pipeline between Russia and Germany is 95% built with 121km left to lay in Danish and German waters.
The project was initially expected to be finished in late 2019, but US sanctions forced the Swiss and Italian pipelayers initially contracted to withdraw from the project.
15 April 2021
GIF INSIDE STORY: Russian gas supply alternatives to Nord Stream 2
The potential completion or cancellation of Russian Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 pipeline project can reshape Europe’s natural gas imports and transit.
ICIS Analytics models three scenarios for Russian gas supply to Europe, showing how flow profiles could change based on different Nord Stream 2 outcomes.
GIF Comment: Nord Stream 2 ties together US and Germany’s economic and political agendas
The new US administration’s desire to mend fences with historical EU allies has led some to believe Washington and Berlin can reach a compromise on the world’s most controversial pipeline.
Economically and politically, both have a lot at stake. The rhetoric of the US State Department condemning Nord Stream 2 indicate there may be no change in position, but there could be a shift in its strategy.
5 March 2021
Nord Stream 2 works extended until end of September
Construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline in Danish waters has been extended until the end of September, a notice from the Danish Maritime Authority indicated on 4 March.
A second Russian pipe-laying vessel has started to work on the project, which may accelerate the pace of construction.
Work on the link restarted in the Danish exclusive economic zone in late January using a Russian pipe-layer called the Fortuna, despite the vessel falling under US sanctions .
The new US administration held off on applying new sanctions against the project through a report in February.
23 February 2021
US holds off on new sanctions for Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline
The US state department has not sanctioned new entities involved in Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline as part of a congressionally-mandated report submitted on 19 February.
The US list of blocked entities and people was updated on 22 February to include the Russian Fortuna vessel through two sets of sanctions against Nord Stream 2.
This vessel was included in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on 19 January and is now also included in the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act (PEESA).
15 February 2021
On the agenda: US report on Nord Stream 2 activities expected Tuesday
A US State Department report identifying the companies actively involved in the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline is expected on Tuesday. This is part of the US sanctions legislation against the project and may potentially lead to the addition of more companies to the sanctions list.
On 12 February, two US senators called on President Joe Biden to fully implement current sanctions against this project. Implementing these sanctions includes submitting the report to the US Congress on 16 February.
The existing sanction packages against the project “have had a demonstrative effect on slowing completion of the project. These sanctions work,” senators Jim Risch, member of the senate’s foreign relations committee, and Jeanne Shaheen, chair of the subcommittee on Europe and regional security cooperation, said in their letter to Biden on 12 February.
9 February 2021
Pipelay to continue into the second quarter of the year
Pipelay of Nord Stream 2 will take place until the end of April, in the Danish exclusive economic zone and up to the border with German waters, the Danish Maritime Authority said on Monday in a notice to mariners. In January 2020, Russian president Vladimir Putin said he hoped the project would be finished by the end of 2020 or in the first quarter of 2021. But the Danish notice confirms that the project will not be completed in the first quarter. The project was initially planned to be built by the end of 2019 but US sanctions delayed it. So far, Russia’s Fortuna is the only pipelayer left in the project. It arrived on the Danish construction site in late January, picking up pipelay where it had been left on hold since December 2019.
3 February 2021
German region establishes group to push Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
In the opening month of the year the German regional parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern adopted a motion to establish a foundation that aims, among other things, to help complete the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.
The latest US sanctions package adopted on 1 January does not apply to EU entities that do not operate as a business enterprise.
The foundation is a state entity, although its Nord Stream 2-dedicated branch is a commercial business, meaning it might fall under US sanctions.
22 January 2020
European Parliament calls EU to stop Russian Nord Stream 2 gas project
The European Parliament called on the EU to stop the Nord Stream 2 project immediately in a resolution reacting to Russian opponent Alexei Navalny’s recent arrest. The text was adopted on 21 January with a large majority of 581, 50 against and 44 abstentions.
The EU must stop the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project immediately, the text states.
The European Parliament resolution is not binding, and the matter is now in the hands of the European Council which needs to decide whether to take action on it or not. ICIS contacted the Council who could not say yet whether and when they will discuss the matter.
20 January 2021
New US sanctions call into question Nord Stream 2 completion date
LONDON (ICIS)–The US government sanctioned
Fortuna, the last pipelaying vessel left in the
Nord Stream 2 project, US State Secretary Mike
This adds uncertainty regarding the completion date of the project, already delayed by over a year.
Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline between Russia and
Germany under the Baltic Sea. Once finished,
the project will have the capacity to transport
27.5% of Russia’s yearly piped gas supplies to
Europe, based on volumes sent in 2018 and 2019.
Nord Stream 2’s capacity is sufficient to
satisfy almost 11% of the EU’s annual gas needs
based on 2019 demand, data collated by ICIS
US sanctions forced Nord Stream 2’s main pipelayers to withdraw from the project in December 2019. Russian pipelayer Fortuna resumed work in German waters in December 2020 and was planned to resume work in Danish waters from 15 January 2021 but had not yet done so as of Wednesday. There remain around 160km to lay in Germany and Denmark.
The EU does not recognise the extra-territorial application of sanctions adopted by third countries […] and opposes unilateral sanctions affecting EU companies conducting legitimate and lawful business activities, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borell said on Monday referring to US sanctions on Nord Stream 2.
The commission’s objective has always been to
ensure that, if built, Nord Stream 2 operates
in respect of EU law, he added. Germany has
notified transposition of the new EU Gas
Directive, which is relevant for Nord Stream 2,
he also said. This indicates the commission is
unlikely to sanction the project so long as it
complies with EU rules.
It is up to the European governments and the European Commission to protect companies operating in Europe from illegal extraterritorial sanctions, the pipeline’s promoters told ICIS on Wednesday.
EU PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
Members of the EU Parliament (MEPs) called for additional EU sanctions against Russia over the recent imprisonment of Russian citizen Alexei Navalny, in a debate with Borrell on Tuesday.
Several MEPs called on the EU, and some national and regional governments in particular, to finally move ahead with cancelling the remaining work on Nord Stream 2, as a means to impose proper economic sanctions against Russia, a Parliament press release stated.
A resolution on Navalny’s arrest will be put to the EU Parliament’s vote on Thursday and will likely contain references to Nord Stream 2, a Parliament press officer told ICIS. However, it will not be legally binding, and it will be up to the EU Council and the commission to assess the resolution and decide on any action.
Chairman of the German Eastern Business Association (Ost-Ausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft) Oliver Hermes said on Tuesday that the sanctions are putting a strain on the new start in transatlantic relations.
“But we continue to see a good possibility that the German government will find a solution with the new Biden administration that will allow the pipeline’s timely completion and operation,” Hermes said. “Investment security is an essential achievement of the European internal market, and this should not be called into question,” he added.
The Association supports projects and claims of German companies and is sponsored by the Federation of German Industries, the Association of German Banks, and the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry among others. Nord Stream 2 investors Uniper, Wintershall and Gazprom via its subsidiary Gazprom Germania are members of the Association.
“We stand by Nord Stream 2 and are not affected by the sanctions,” Uniper told ICIS on Wednesday. “We have particular hope that there is a clearly increased willingness in the US to hear the arguments of the Europeans. […] We are still convinced that the pipeline will be completed,” they added.
22 December 2020
Construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipe to restart in Denmark from mid-January
From 15 January 2021, Nord Stream 2’s two gas pipelines will be laid south of Denmark’s Bornholm island, the Danish maritime authority announced in a notice to mariners on Monday.
Pipe-laying the underwater pipelines restarted in Germany earlier in Decmeber and is scheduled to take place until around 31 December 2020, German Waterways and Shipping Authority Stralsund stated in a notice to mariners on 11 December. Once finished, the 55 billion cubic meter (bcm)/year project will have the capacity to transport 27.5% of Russia’s yearly piped gas supplies to Europe, based on volumes sent in 2018 and 2019. Russian producer Gazprom said in its investors day presentation in February that it plans to keep its supplies to Europe at about 200bcm/year until 2030. Nord Stream 2’s capacity is sufficient to satisfy almost 11% of the EU’s annual gas needs based on 2019 demand, according to data collated by ICIS.
The Nord Stream 2 project is composed of two parallel pipelines running between Russia and Germany. Its construction in the Danish Exclusive Economic Zone had stopped in late December 2010 due to US sanctions. These sanctions forced the Swiss-owned pipelaying vessels initially contracted for the offshore link to withdraw from the project.
Construction will resume with a smaller Russian pipelayer, Fortuna. This vessel averages 1.5km/day , according to Russian newspaper Kommersant. The vessel’s owner MRTS did not respond to ICIS to confirm this. If the average pipelay speed is correct and weather conditions optimal, Fortuna could potentially finish the last 160km stretch in Denmark in 107 days or around 3.5 months.
NEW US SANCTIONS
Earlier this month, the US Congress approved new sanctions against the project but Washington plans to consult European governments before imposing them. A European input may soften or delay their implementation.
The legislation will enter into force upon the US president signing it, which is required by the end of the year. These new sanctions target those who provide insurance, certification, or port services to pipelayers contracted for the offshore pipeline.
In mid-August, an EU delegation in Washington officially opposed the US threat of additional sanctions against the project. EU member states could join on the outreach on a voluntary basis and 24 out of the 27 member states were reported to have joined it. This indicates that, when consulted, the EU is likely to oppose the implementation of the new sanctions.
15 December 2020
Nord Stream 2 restarts pipelay; US to consult EU on sanctions
The US Congress has approved new sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project but Washington plans to consult European governments before imposing such sanctions.
EU’s input may soften or delay their implementation.
The legislation, passed both by the Senate and the House last week, is now with the US president, whose signature is required by the end of the year. The pipeline construction has been on hold since December 2019 due to US sanctions but resumed last Friday.
The new sanctions target those who provide insurance, certification, or port services to pipelayers contracted for the offshore pipeline.
In mid-August, an EU delegation in Washington officially opposed the US threat of additional sanctions against the pipeline. EU member states could join on the outreach on a voluntary basis and 24 out of the 27 member states were reported to have joined it. This indicates that, when consulted, the EU is likely to oppose the implementation of the new US sanctions.
Once finished, the 55 billion cubic meter (bcm)/year Nord Stream 2 will have the capacity to transport 27.5% of Russia’s yearly piped gas supplies to Europe, based on volumes sent in 2018 and 2019. Russian producer Gazprom said in its investors day presentation in February that it plans to keep its supplies to Europe at about 200bcm/year until 2030. The Nord Stream 2 capacity is sufficient to satisfy almost 11% of EU gas needs based on 2019 demand, according to data collated by ICIS.
NEW US SANCTIONS
The sanctions target foreign persons who provide:
– Underwriting services, insurance or
reinsurance for Nord Stream 2 pipe-laying
vessels and such services are necessary for the
completion of Nord Stream 2
– Services or facilities for technology upgrades, installation of welding equipment for retrofitting or tethering of, those vessels, if these services or facilities are necessary for the completion of Nord Stream 2
– Services for the testing, inspection or certification necessary for the completion or operation of the pipeline
No later than 60 days after the enactment of the legislation and every 90 days thereafter, the US State Secretary, in consultation with the Treasury Secretary, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that:
– Identifies those providing the abovementioned
services or facilities
– Describes the nature of the consultations with the governments of EU member states, Norway, Switzerland and the UK, and any concerns these governments raised
Nord Stream 2 is an offshore pipeline composed of two parallel lines in the Baltic Sea.
Pipe-laying of two parallel underwater pipelines through the pipe-laying vessel Fortuna is scheduled to take place until around 31 December 2020, German Waterways and Shipping Authority Stralsund stated in a notice to mariners on 11 December. On 15 December, vessel tracking website MarineTraffic showed the Fortuna pipelayer in the zone, indicating that pipelay was still underway.
Fortuna will lay a 2.6 km section of the pipeline in the German Exclusive Economic Zone, the project developers told ICIS on Tuesday, also confirming the restart of pipelay. “All construction works are implemented in full compliance with existing permits. We will inform about further offshore construction activities in due time,” the company added.
Russia’s Fortuna is an anchored vessel and was initially contracted to lay pipes in Russian waters. Non-anchored vessels were contracted to build most of the pipeline but had to withdraw from the project in December 2019. In July 2020, Denmark agreed that both types of vessels may be used. This indicates that once it finished the German section, Fortuna could finish the Danish section too.
Fortuna averages 1.5km/day, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant. The vessel’s owner MRTS did not respond to ICIS to confirm this. If the average is correct the vessel could potentially finish the Danish section in 107 days or around 3.5 months.
As of 15 December, the Danish Maritime Authority had not received any information on a restart of pipelay in Denmark. Pipelay in Denmark is suspended until further notice, according to the latest Danish Notice to Mariners regarding the project, dated from 23 December 2019. There remains around 160km of pipes to lay in the Danish Exclusive Economic Zone.
7 December 2020
US to consult Europe on new sanctions for Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
The US has opted to consult European governments before imposing new sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which may soften or delay these.
Last week, the US Congress drafted new sanctions that will target those who provide insurance, certification, or port services to pipelayers contracted for the project. However, before imposing these sanctions, the US will consult the governments of EU member states, Norway, Switzerland and the UK.
The European Commission and Germany, where the pipeline connects to EU territory, consider US sanctions against this project extraterritorial and unacceptable.
1 December 2020
Construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipe expected to resume 5 December
On 27 November the German Waterways and Shipping Authority Stralsund published a note indicating that pipe-laying work on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany would resume on 5 December.
23 November 2020
German association urges US to halt Nord Stream 2 sanctions
Potential US sanctions currently under discussion against companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 project could weigh on US-EU talks surrounding the pipeline once the new US administration settles, Oliver Hermes, chairman of the German Eastern Business Association (Ost-Ausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft), has said.
18 November 2020
US Senate expands sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project
The US Senate included new sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project in a key US legislative act on 16 November.
Washington has long been trying to stop the offshore pipeline between Russia and Germany. In December 2019, the US made the construction to go on hold by forcing the pipe-laying vessels contracted for the project to withdraw from it.
10 November 2020
All Nord Stream 2 investors appeal Poland fine
On 5 November, Wintershall, Shell and Engie’s Switzerland-based subsidiary appealed against the fine imposed by Polish antimonopoly authority UOKiK over the Nord Stream 2 project, the companies confirmed to ICIS. This means all six Nord Stream 2 investors have appealed the Polish decision. Back in early October, UOKiK fined the investors a total of €6.5bn for implementing the pipeline project without Poland’s consent.
6 November 2020
Russian gas producer Gazprom appeals Nord Stream 2 fine
Russian producer Gazprom has appealed against Poland’s €6.5bn fine over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. Two other investors involved in the project will also appeal, while the rest are considering the option.
21 October 2020
Berlin keeps supporting Nord Stream 2, Washington updates sanctions
German foreign minister Heiko Maas said Nord Stream 2 will be completed but the timing remains uncertain, the Foreign Office showed on its website on 17 October.
7 Oct 2020
Polish antimonopoly authority fines Nord Stream 2 gas pipe investors €6.5bn
The Polish antimonopoly authority (UOKiK) fined the investors of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline a total of Polish Zloty 29.3bn (€6.5bn) for implementing the project without UOKiK’s required consent, the authority announced on Wednesday.
In April 2017, the investors – Russia’s Gazprom, France’s Engie, Germany’s Wintershall and Uniper, Austria’s OMV and international conglomerate Shell – agreed to co-finance the €9.5bn offshore project, with Gazprom responsible for €4.75bn and the other five investors contributing €950m each in loans to Nord Stream 2 AG, a Gazprom subsidiary. Gazprom is the sole stakeholder in the project.
17 August 2020
EU Delegation opposes US sanctions on Russian gas pipe
An EU delegation in Washington has officially opposed the US threat of additional sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project last week, an EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security confirmed on Monday.
This step marks a shift towards a more concerted EU stance, which could put more pressure on the US to find a compromise and water down its position. Before that, opposition to US sanctions had been sparse and coming mostly from Germany.
12 August 2020
Nord Stream 2 gas pipe EU investors cry foul over US sanctions
German utility Uniper and Austrian OMV expressed growing concerns regarding Washington’s intensifying efforts to stop Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline from completion.
Uniper and OMV account for 20% of the pipeline’s €9.5bn financing, with French Engie, German Wintershall and Dutch Shell covering 10% each and Russia’s Gazprom the remaining 50%.
3 Aug 2020
Polish antitrust authority fines Gazprom over Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline probe
The president of the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has imposed a Polish Zloty (Zl) 213m (€48m) fine on Gazprom for failing to cooperate in an investigation into the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, UOKiK stated on Monday.
24 July 2020
Russia’s Nord Stream 2 looks to appeal court rulings
Developers of the Russian Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline have until 30 July to appeal an EU General Court ruling against allowing a derogation from third party access rules.
Nord Stream 2 had looked to the court to reverse a decision on applying EU access and unbundling regulations to pipelines connecting to the trading bloc from non-member states.
This came through amendments to the gas directive and made it less likely that Russian producer Gazprom will be able to secure full access to Nord Steam 2 after the link is completed.
16 July 2020
US threatens Nord Stream 2 gas pipe investors with sanctions
The five European companies providing half of the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline’s financing could fall under US sanctions after the state department withdrew a key cut-off date in its legislation. But this is unlikely to translate into actions, according to experts who spoke to ICIS.
6 July 2020
Russia’s Nord Stream 2 may restart gas pipelay from 3 August
On 6 July the Danish Energy Agency announced Nord Stream 2 can use pipe-laying vessels with anchors to finish the offshore section of the natural gas pipeline that will double direct Russian export capacity to Germany.
This potentially means the project developers can resume construction from 3 August.
17 June 2020
Nord Stream 2 pipelay could restart in July
The Danish Energy Agency expects to be able to make a decision in the next four weeks on whether to allow anchor vessels to restart work on the Russian pipeline Nord Stream 2.
If the agency approves the use of these vessels, pipelay in Denmark could resume from mid-July, provided there is no delay to observe and the yet-to-be-confirmed pipe-laying vessel is ready.
5 June 2020
US senators call for more Nord Stream 2 sanctions
Several US senators have called for more sanctions against Nord Stream 2, a natural gas pipeline that will double Russian direct export capacity to Germany.
11 May 2020
Germany to reject derogation for Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline
Germany’s regulator BNetzA intends to reject a derogation request that would allow Russian Gazprom full access to Nord Stream 2 – an offshore pipeline that will double Russia’s direct pipeline capacity to Germany to 110 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year.
5 May 2020
German regulator consults on Nord Stream 2 derogation decision
German regulator BNetzA has sent its intended decision on potential derogation of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project from EU rules to parties that are involved in the process.
The consultation will last until 8 May.
The derogation would exempt the project from EU rules enforcing third party access to pipeline capacity, and legal separation of Gazprom as the owner of the pipeline from suppliers of gas using it. In reality, Gazprom is the only potential supplier from Russia.
1 April 2020
Poland unlikely to prevent derogation for Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline
Despite Poland’s vocal criticism of the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline, its inclusion in the derogation procedure initiated by Germany does not mean the derogation has become less likely, experts told ICIS.
10 February 2020
Nord Stream 2 gas link completion may be possible with Russian ships
There are two pipe-laying vessels owned by Russian companies that could complete the Nord Steam 2 natural gas pipeline, although backers of the project have yet to provide plans.
There is about 7% still to be completed, all in the Danish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), after Swiss company Allseas ceased work on the link due to US sanctions.
3 February 2020
Final technical, legal hurdles for Nord Stream 2 resolvable
Experts believe legal and technical challenges to the start of Nord Stream 2 flows can be resolved.
Once completed, Nord Stream 2 will double Russia’s direct export capacity to Germany as a first entry point to the EU to 110 billion cubic meters (bcm)/year.
20 January 2020
More Nord Stream 2 delays could cut 20bcm of Russian gas supply to Europe
Europe could face a shortfall of over 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian gas supply in 2021 from 2020’s levels if Nord Stream 2 is delayed beyond 2020 and European demand remains stable.
16 January 2020
Croatian EU presidency’s focus: Energy Charter Tearty, energy transition
In the first six months of 2020, the Croatian presidency of the EU will follow the process of modernisation of the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) – a crucial agreement that can affect the way the controversial Russian pipeline Nord Stream 2 is operated.
14 January 2020
German regulator considers exempting Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from EU rules
German energy regulator BNetzA has until 24 May 2020 to publish its decision regarding a potential exemption from EU rules for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
13 January 2020
Nord Stream 2 to launch by end of 2020 or Q1 2021 – Putin
The Russian pipeline could be finished by the end of this year or in the first quarter of 2021, president Vladimir Putin said at a press conference following a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel on 11 January.
19 December 2019
Nord Stream 2 sanctions to apply as soon as law is signed – US senators
Two US senators sent a warning letter to Nord Stream 2 pipelaying contractor Allseas asking them to stop building the Russian pipeline as soon as sanctions legislation is signed off.
“The consequences of your company continuing to do the work – for even a single day after the President signs the sanctions legislation – would expose your company to crushing and potentially fatal legal and economic sanctions,” the letter, from senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson, states.
13 December 2019
US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 gas link unacceptable – German MPS
Several members of the German parliament’s energy committee have spoken out against US legislation to impose sanctions on companies involved in building the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.
Sandra Weeser, group spokesperson for the Free Democrats in the German commission for economics and energy, told ICIS: “The Trump administration is pretty clearly trying to threaten Germany. It is clear that energy security is a matter of national sovereignty, and the Americans know that very well.”
5 December 2019
ICIS VIEW: Nord Stream 2 construction state of play
Construction is underway of the last section of the Russian pipeline. If the pipe-lay speed remains stable then Gazprom’s calculations to build the Danish section in five weeks remain valid and pipelay could be finished by the start of January.
But US sanctions could be voted in by mid-December, which would target the companies owning the vessels laying Nord Stream 2. If voted and observed, the sanctions could affect the completion of the 55 billion cubic meter (bcm) Russian pipeline.
4 November 2019
Market more confident in Q2 2020 launch of Nord Stream 2
The TTF and GASPOOL Q2 ’20 gas contracts have shed more risk premium than the Q1 ‘20 equivalents since Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline received a Danish construction permit.
This indicates that market participants are more confident in the pipeline starting deliveries from the second quarter of 2020 rather than in January as initially planned.
On 30 October, the 55bcm offshore pipeline connecting Russia to Germany received the final required permit to complete its construction in the Danish exclusive economic zone.
Image caption: Connecting pipe sections above water. Source: Nord Stream 2