Russia's Gazprom cancels tenders for trunk pipeline needed for Nord Stream II

MOSCOW, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Russian gas giant Gazprom has cancelled several tenders for construction of over 400 km of a gas trunk pipeline needed for the planned Nord Stream II project, according to documents posted on a government procurement website.

Nord Stream II, led by Gazprom, aims to increase Russian natural gas exports to Europe by doubling the amount of gas Russia sends to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

Nord Stream can already send up to 55 billion cubic metres of Russian gas per year to Europe, and its potential expansion has met with criticism from some European Union member states.

Gazprom cancelled one tender for building a section of the Ukhta-Torzhok 2 trunk pipeline on Dec. 30 and cancelled three more on Jan. 11. It was not immediately clear why Gazprom had cancelled the tenders.

In November, a source at a pipe supplier to Gazprom told Reuters the Nord Stream II pipeline consortium had delayed the results of a pipe tender due to changes in the shareholding structure of the consortium.

Ukhta-Torzhok 2 is meant to be around 970 kilometres long when completed and will allow for more Russian gas to be fed into the Nord Stream pipeline system.

The tenders recently cancelled by Gazprom were worth some 13 billion roubles ($170.7 million), according to documents Gazprom posted on the government procurement website ($1 = 76.1460 roubles) (Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Vladimir Soldatkin and William Hardy)