U.S. sanctions will not affect Nord Stream 2: Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has been assured by the United States that any sanctions imposed on Russia will not affect the building of a gas pipeline to bring Russian gas to Europe, a spokeswoman for the German economy ministry said on Friday.

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

The spokeswoman said that guidelines provided by the United States suggested that construction of Nord Stream 2 would be unaffected.

“We have received assurances that gas pipeline projects will be excluded from the sanctions,” the spokeswoman said during a regular government news conference.

She was not immediately able to say when these new guidelines had been provided.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Berlin said there had been no change in policy.

“We have been clear that firms working in the Russian energy pipeline sector are engaged in a business that carries sanctions risk,” the spokesman said.

The Nord Stream 2 consortium, an initiative of five European companies and Russian energy giant Gazprom, started starting preparatory work in the Greifswald bay off Germany’s Baltic coast on a new twin pipeline last month.

The new pipeline will double Russia’s export capacity of 55 billion cubic meters to Germany.

Eastern European and Baltic states fear it will increase Europe’s reliance on Russian gas and undermine Ukraine’s lucrative gas transit route. The United States also opposes it, contending that it could undermine Europe’s energy security.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had long argued the project was purely commercial but last month she acknowledged there were political considerations. She recently said that Ukraine must be able to continue to earn revenue from gas transit.

Wintershall, an oil and gas subsidiary of Germany’s BASF on Wednesday defended its partnership with Russia in Nord Stream 2, saying this was a more stable option than liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle