The developers of Nord Stream 2 had high hopes for this ship. “Akademik Tscherski” was to lay the last part of the pipeline in the Baltic Sea. A Russian special ship lay in the port of Mukran on the island of Rügen for weeks waiting to be sent.
Russia’s energy company Gazprom, which owns Nord Stream 2, wanted to use the ship to resume work on the pipeline, which had to be shut down last December. The Swiss company Allseas, which was commissioned to lay the pipeline, had to withdraw from the project after the US imposed sanctions on Nord Stream 2.
About a year after the involuntary halt to construction, the pipeline project has now suffered another serious failure. Because, contrary to what was planned, “Akademik Tscherski” will not be able to continue laying pipes in the Baltic Sea.
The reason for the new problems is the stricter sanctions recently agreed by the US Congress, which should be decided this year. These sanctions under the “European Energy Security Act” (PEESA) are no longer targeted only at companies that build pipelines. US repressive measures should now target insurers and certification companies involved in the project.
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According to the Reuters news agency, the classification company DNV GL has now taken the first steps. The Norwegian company, created by merging Det Norske Veritas and Germanischer Lloyd, was commissioned by Nord Stream 2 to confirm the pipeline. It was concluded that inspection work on ships and equipment for the Nord Stream 2 project could be sanctioned under the new US regulation, the company said, according to Reuters. “DNV GL has therefore ceased to provide services that could fall within the scope of PEESA.”
The classification society had to check whether the “Akademik Tscherski” met the technical requirements and safety requirements for laying the pipes. According to the Danish building permit, such an independent inspection is mandatory for the project. However, due to US sanctions, there will be no such certificate for “Akademik Tscherski” for the time being. The ship is said to have been specially rebuilt for laying.
Without a certificate, the pipeline cannot function
Although DNV GL has not yet completely withdrawn from the project, it is difficult to issue the certificate of conformity required in the building permit without verifying the installation. However, this certificate is a prerequisite for the pipeline to be allowed to operate at all.
Nord Stream 2 and Gazprom should now quickly find another company that could take over the certification. But that’s all, just not easy. In addition, several references to DNV GL are given in the Danish building permit.
On the question of what DNV GL’s decision means for the progress of the pipeline project, a spokesman for Nord Stream 2 did not want to comment on Friday. “It is up to governments and the European Commission to protect European companies from illegal extraterritorial sanctions,” a company spokesman said. The sanctions are “contrary to international law,” a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Economy said. “That’s the clear position of the federal government.”
Nord Stream 2 and Gazprom clearly do not currently anticipate that the problem will be resolved in the short term. On Thursday evening, shortly after 8 pm, “Akademik Tscherski” flew to Mukran and returned to Kaliningrad, Russia.