Nord Stream 2 starts filling pipeline with gas for tests

The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia
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/File Photo

MOSCOW, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Nord Stream 2 has started filling one of its two pipelines with natural gas for tests, said the operator of the pipeline that runs on the bed of the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

The politically charged Nord Stream 2 project was designed by Moscow to bypass Ukraine with its gas exports to Europe.

The pipeline will double Russia's existing gas pipeline export capacity across the Baltic Sea to 110 billion cubic metres, equating to more than a half of Russia's total pipeline gas supplies to Europe.

"The first string will be filled gradually to build the required inventory and pressure as a prerequisite for later technical tests," the Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 operating company said on Monday. Pre-commissioning steps for the second string are ongoing, it added.

Nord Stream 2 is still awaiting approval from Germany's energy regulator to transport its gas in Germany.

The Danish Energy Agency on Monday said it had accepted that pipeline B can be put into operation. Some conditions remained before pipeline A could be begin operation, it added.

The project was delayed at the end of 2019 after sanctions from the United States, which does not want Europe to increase its dependence on energy supplies from Russia. Washington also wants to sell its own sea-borne liquefied natural gas to Europe.

Russia had to use its own vessels to lay pipes on the bed of the Baltic Sea, completing construction of the $11 billion project last month. read more

Germany's energy regulator last month said it had four months to complete certification of Nord Stream 2 after receiving all necessary documents for the pipeline company's operating licence. read more

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Olesya Astakhova in Moscow; additional reporting by in Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen; Editing by David Goodman

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