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.
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