Allseas, a Swiss-Dutch company set to lay underwater tubes for the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline off the Danish coast, has withdrawn both of its pipelaying vessels Pioneering Spirit and Solitaire from the Baltic Sea.
Allseas decided to halt its operations and exit the $11 billion project just after the US sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream gas pipelines came into force on December 20. According to the imposed snanctions, assets of the company involved in the US would be frozen, employees’ visas revoked and the firm itself being put on the blacklist.
In this situation, the Nord Stream 2 would have to seek alternative vessels and contractors to complete the remaining section of pipe (around 50km) in Danish waters. There are Russian contractors with expertise in the construction of offshore pipelines – OJSC Mezhregiontruboprovodstroi and Gazprom
“Russian companies operate capable offshore pipe-lay vessels, which have completed projects in challenging Arctic conditions, including the MRTS Defender, which worked on the offshore stretch of the Bovanenkovo-Ukhta pipeline.
Platts Analytics believes MRTS Fortuna could be used to complete Nord Stream 2, but is capable of laying just 1 km/d.
A further obstacle, according to Platts Analytics, is that the Danish permit application states that it is assumed that the vessels used to complete the Danish section will have dynamic positioning capabilities (such as those of the Allseas vessels) which are not present on MRTS Fortuna.
A Russian pipelaying vessel that already has dynamic positioning capabilities, Akademik Cherskiy, could be used, but it would take up to two months to arrive to Danish waters as it is currently stationed in Russia’s Far East,” SPGlobal reported.
Despite the difficulties, both Germany and Russia are set to continue the work and launch the Nord Stream 2 as soon as possible. Germany already authorized the Nord Stream 2 AG for work in the winter period. Peter Beyer, the German government’s Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation said that the pipeline will be operational in the second half of 2020.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on December 22 that the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream projects will be launched despite U.S. sanctions, adding that Russia planned to respond to the new measures, Interfax reported.
The EU also voiced their opposition to the U.S. sanctions and an EU spokesman said that European companies are conducting legitimate business.
“The Commission’s objective has always been to ensure that Nord Stream 2 operates in a transparent and non-discriminatory way with the appropriate degree of regulatory oversight,” the spokesman said.
So, the US’ agressive and rough actions may once again lead to the opposite result with Russia and large EU countries with powerful industry uniting to deliver cheap energy resources to Europe. Another interesting fact is that the Nord Stream 2 situation came amid reports that Russia and Ukraine signed a protocol on gas transit to Europe and claims settlement in Minsk.