Nordstream 2 gas pipeline important for Europe: German energy minister

LONDON (Reuters) - The Nordstream 2 pipeline is important to secure energy supplies and Russia is a safe and reliable provider of gas for Germany, Thomas Bareiss, German state secretary for energy, said at a conference in London on Monday.

The Nordstream 2 pipeline will allow Russia to bypass Ukraine in transporting gas to Europe. Gas is due to start flowing at the end of 2019.

The pipeline has drawn criticism from the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump has said the project increases reliance on Russian gas and has warned Western firms invested in the pipeline that they are at risk of sanctions.

Gazprom and its European partners say the Nordstream 2 project is aimed at ensuring energy security in the region as gas production falls in Europe and as Gazprom remains in conflict with Ukraine.

“I know the U.S. has concerns ... but it is not so easy. For Germany, Russia has always been a safe and reliable supplier for gas,” Bareiss told the Bloomberg NEF Future of Energy summit in London.

“Nordstream 2 should go on because the pipeline secures energy supply in Europe,” he added.

Nordstream 2 AG will double the existing Nordstream 1 capacity from a current 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year, and is owned by Gazprom, which is taking on half of the planned costs of 9.5 billion euros ($11 billion).

The rest is divided between five European energy companies - Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Anglo- Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Engie and Austria’s OMV.

($1 = 0.8610 euros)

Reporting by Nina Chestney, editing by David Evans