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Russia's Nord Stream 2 to resume pipe-laying work this year

FILE PHOTO: Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline are stored on a site at the port of Mukran in Sassnitz, Germany, September 10, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s Nord Stream 2 said on Saturday it planned to resume pipe-laying work on a 2.6 kilometre (1.62 mile) stretch of the stalled Moscow-backed gas pipeline to Europe in Germany’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The 1,230 km pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which Moscow hopes will boost the amount of gas it can pump to Europe bypassing Ukraine, is nearly finished but a final stretch of about 120 km still needs to be laid.

Work was halted last December when pipe-laying company Swiss-Dutch Allseas suspended operations after U.S. sanctions targeted companies providing vessels to lay the pipes.

The pipeline, which Washington says compromises European energy security, has become a flashpoint in relations between Russia and the West that have sunk to post-Cold War lows.

Nord Stream 2 will name the pipe-laying vessel it plans to use at a later date, it said in a statement Saturday. It did not say when the work would be finished or how the other remaining sections of the pipeline would be laid.

The resumption of activity comes after outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump, whose administration has staunchly opposed the pipeline, lost to president-elect Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election.

Nord Stream 2 is led by Russian gas giant Gazprom [GAZP.MM], with half of the funding provided by Germany’s Uniper [UN01.DE], BASF’s [BASFn.DE] Wintershall, Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell [RDSa.L], Austria’s OMV [OMVV.VI] and Engie [ENGIE.PA].

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Christina Fincher

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