Nord Stream 2 says preparations for construction in Danish waters can go ahead

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Russia-led Nord Stream 2 (NS2) consortium on Friday said preparatory work to complete the subsea gas pipeline to Germany in Danish waters can go ahead, pointing to the latest notifications by the Danish Maritime Authority.

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Denmark’s Nautiskinformation notified shippers on Thursday that prohibited areas near Bornholm would be established beginning on Friday for the pipe laying vessel Fortuna, assisted by construction and supply vessels.

Earlier, the German business daily Handelsblatt said the NS2 group, which is led by Russia’s Gazprom, was delaying the completion work, linking this to enhanced sanctions pressure from Washington aimed at halting the project.

A spokesman for the Switzerland-based group, who had referenced the Danish website, said he would not comment any further.

The consortium will probably be able to say at the end of January or in early February when work will resume, the Handelsblatt report had quoted the group as saying.

More than 90% of the project has been completed.

According to Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking data, the Fortuna was anchored near the German port of Rostock on Friday.

Construction of Nord Stream 2 was initially halted in December 2019 following the sanctions threat from the United States, which wants to cut Europe’s dependence on Russian energy and sell its own liquefied natural gas to the region.

Nord Stream 2 is designed to double capacity of the existing undersea Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany to 110 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year, more than half of Russia’s overall pipeline gas exports to Europe.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Friday the government will consult with the new U.S. administration about the project as soon as it takes office.

Separately, Germany’s maritime authority, BSH, said on Friday it had given Nord Stream 2 permission to lay pipelines in its exclusive economic zone any year from the end of September to the end of May, following an application from the consortium in June 2020.

The CEO of Wintershall DEA, one of five Western partners, said on Friday he had not received any letter from Washington, a day after the CEO of Uniper said the same.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle and Oliver Danzer in Berlin, Christoph Steitz and Vera Eckert in Frankfurt and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow Editing by Mark Potter and Matthew Lewis