The last segment of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has successfully been welded onboard a construction vessel, Nord Stream 2 AG, the Gazprom-owned operator of the Nord Stream 2 subsea gas export pipeline, said on Monday.
“On September 6, specialists on the lay-barge Fortuna welded the last pipe of the two strings of the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline,” reads the statement issued by the operator on Monday.
Russia’s pipe-laying vessel with the assumed speed of pipe-laying at 0.4 kilometers per day has proceeded its work in German waters, where it lowered pipe number 200,858 onto the seabed.
“As the next step, the section of the pipe coming from the German shore will be connected to the section coming from the Danish waters in a so-called above water tie-in,” the statement reads.
According to the operator, it is further planned to carry out commissioning activities on the second line to put the gas pipeline into operation before the end of the year.
The 1,200-km-long Nord Stream 2 is designed to deliver additional 55 billion cubic meters (or 2 trillion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas per year to Europe through the Baltic Sea. The $11-billion pipeline is supposed to traverse the territorial waters of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Denmark.
Although Nord Stream 2 is designed to meet Europe’s ever-growing demand for energy resources, the project has faced fierce opposition from critics since the beginning.
The pipeline has become a matter of contention between Moscow and Washington. The United States claims the joint German-Russian pipeline will increase Europe’s dependency on Russia for energy imports. Washington has been pushing officials in Europe to abandon the project and instead purchase American liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an alternative.
After years of opposition, the US and Germany issued a joint statement on Nord Stream 2 that effectively granted Russia permission to complete the project, which was 99 percent finished by that time.
Under the deal, the United States and Germany pledged to jointly confront Russia via sanctions and other tools if it uses energy as a weapon “to achieve aggressive political ends.” The agreement also lays out a new US-Germany Climate and Energy Partnership that will focus on reducing energy reliance on Russia by speeding up the green transitions of Central and Eastern European countries.
Meanwhile, the US-Germany deal has been bitterly opposed by Kyiv, who believes that the Moscow-run pipeline, which bypasses traditional overland routes that run through Ukraine, will threaten Europe’s security. Critics in Kyiv say that the construction of the new Baltic Sea pipeline threatens European energy security, heightens Russia’s influence, and ultimately means the Ukrainian government will no longer collect transit fees from Russian gas exported to Europe.