Nord Stream 2 CEO says construction work to be finished in August

The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

FRANKFURT, July 12 (Reuters) - The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline should be finished in late August and enter service this year, the Swiss-based group behind it said on Monday, confirming a Handelsblatt business daily interview with its chief executive officer Matthias Warnig.

"We assume that the construction work will be completed at the end of August," Warnig said in the interview.

"It is our aim to take the pipeline into operations later this year," he said.

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Some 98 percent of the pipeline had been completed, he said.

The two percent which was missing applied to one of the two tranches, with the other one complete. Pressure tests and certification would take another two to three months.

Nord Stream 2, which runs on the bed of the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine, has faced criticism from the United States, which says it will increase European reliance on Russian gas.

Washington imposed sanctions on the project in 2019, slowing its progress.

Led by Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) with Western partners, the pipeline doubles the capacity of the existing Nord Stream 1 (NS 1) link.

The Zug-based Nord Stream 2 project company, asked by Reuters for verification about the Handelsblatt story, said: "All the answers are in the story you are referring to."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to receive Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday where future gas transits, an important source of income for Ukraine, will be part of the agenda.

Merkel will also be hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House this week.

The Biden administration in May waived sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 company and Warnig while working with Germany to mitigate the pipeline's effects. read more

Warnig said that Russia was bound by a transit deal with Ukraine until 2024 and would continue to send gas through Ukraine after that date.

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Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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