Gazprom says sanctions won't stop Nord Stream 2 pipeline project

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 project to add a second Russian trans-Baltic gas export pipeline will be implemented regardless of how new U.S. sanctions are interpreted, an official at Gazprom GAZP.MM told a conference call on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a board at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017 (SPIEF 2017) in St. Petersburg, Russia June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

Gazprom’s officials also said during a call with investors that the newly imposed sanctions by the United States did not bar the company from borrowing abroad.

The United States has introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russian companies and individuals for Moscow’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis and for alleged interference in the U.S. presidential elections in 2016.

The latest set of U.S. punitive measures was imposed on Moscow this month. The legislation includes sanctions on foreign companies investing in or helping Russian energy exploration, and cut the period for which U.S.-based entities can provide finance to Russian energy firms from 90 to 60 days.

Alexander Ivannikov, a Gazprom official, said on the conference call that the legislation was vague and could be broadly interpreted.

“According to preliminary estimates, this does not diminish a possibility for Gazprom to borrow abroad,” he said, adding that Gazprom and its partners were trying to obtain clarification about the sanctions.

“Even if there are risks ... the Nord Stream 2 project will be implemented regardless of lawyers and (U.S. Treasury) explanations,” he said.

Earlier this year Uniper UN01.DE, Wintershall BASFn.DE, Shell RDSa.L, OMV OMVV.VI and Engie ENGIE.PA agreed to each loan 10 percent of the cost of the pipeline.

Gazprom will remain the sole shareholder in Nord Stream 2, shouldering 50 percent of the cost of the pipeline which will have a capacity to carry 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year into a terminal in Germany and is due to start operating in 2019.

Vsevolod Cherepanov, a Gazprom board member, said during the conference call the company hoped to produce over 460 bcm of gas this year, up from the previous forecast of more than 450 bcm.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Oksana Kobzeva; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov, Greg Mahlich