A worker adjusts a pipeline valve at the Gazprom PJSC Slavyanskaya compressor station, the starting point of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, in Ust-Luga, Russia, on Thursday, January 28, 2021. Nord Stream 2 is 1,230 kilometers (764 miles) long gas pipeline that will double the capacity of the existing underwater route from Russian fields to Europe – the original Nord Stream – which opened in 2011.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday warned companies involved in the completion of a controversial Russian-German gas pipeline called Nord Stream 2 to immediately halt work on the project as President Joe Biden reportedly weighs up new sanctions.
Blinken said the Biden administration is committed to the sanctions law passed in 2019 and is tracking companies that appear to be involved in completing the pipeline.
“The department reiterates its warning that any company involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline risks US sanctions and should stop work on the pipeline immediately,” said Blinken.
According to a Bloomberg report, the Biden government is considering additional sanctions against affected companies. The sanctions could target an insurance company that works with companies laying pipelines and other companies providing ships and materials for the project, the report said.
The near-complete pipeline raises geopolitical and security issues that have divided American allies in Europe. US worries Russia is trying to undermine Ukraine’s role as a gas pipeline to Western Europe by building a pipeline under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, making Berlin more energy dependent.
The pipeline is a major point of contention between the US and Germany, a key American ally. Berlin has resisted pressure from Washington to seek its support for the project.
Blinken recently said in a testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline violates the European Union’s own principles of energy security and endangers the security of Ukraine and Poland.
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on a Russian pipelay ship involved in the project the day before President Donald Trump left. The Biden government has previously spoken out against the project, but it is unclear how difficult it will be.
The Russian company Gazprom owns Nord Stream 2 AG, which is responsible for the planning, construction and operation of the pipeline. The project was financed by Uniper and Wintershall Dea in Germany, Engie in France, OMV in Austria and Shell in the Netherlands.
– CNBC’s Holly Ellyat contributed to this report.