The operator of the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas export pipeline has alerted authorities in Denmark that it expects the second leg of the Gazprom-led project to be completed by the end of the third quarter this year despite continued pressure from US authorities.
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In a note to the Danish Maritime Authority, Nord Stream 2 said that the Russian-owned pipelaying vessel Akademik Chersky is set to resume construction on the abandoned pipeline at a site southeast of Bornholm Island.
Work on the second leg of the pipeline was halted by Swiss contractor Allseas in December 2019 on the eve of the introduction of US sanctions against the pipeline project.
According to the note to Danish authorities, the Chersky vessel is due to lay a 68-kilometre segment of pipeline to the German-Danish border, with work wrapping up at end of September.
Nord Stream 2 has not said when the vessel will return to Danish waters to resume the pipelaying job.
Russian state news agency Tass has quoted Nord Stream 2 as saying that Chersky left the German port of Wismar on Thursday and is now heading to Russian waters near Kaliningrad, on the Baltic Sea, for final tests of its new positioning systems.
Last year, Nord Stream 2 installed eight additional anchors on Chersky to add to its existing dynamically positioning system to ensure the vessel remains at the designated location during the pipelaying job.
According to the Danish Maritime Authority, Chersky will be assisted by two supporting vessels, Baltiysky Issledovatel and Murman.
The administration of US President Joe Biden earlier refused to include Chersky and several other supporting vessels in the updated sanction list against Nord Stream 2 despite proposals from several US lawmakers.
However, the administration reconfirmed existing sanctions against Russian pipelaying barge Fortuna, which resumed laying the first leg of Nord Stream 2 in Danish waters in February, and its Russian owner KVT-Rus.
According to maritime traffic information, Fortuna had laid more than 11 kilometres of the first leg of Nord Stream 2 — out of a total 49 kilometres in the Danish sector — by Thursday evening.
According to an earlier note from Nord Stream 2 to the Danish Maritime Authority, Fortuna is expected to complete work on the pipeline's first leg in May.
Nord Stream 2 will have capacity to carry at least 55 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas from Russia to Germany, thus permitting Gazprom to fully halt shipments across Ukraine to markets in Europe.