Wednesday 24 February 2021 8:28 pm

More than a dozen companies exit $11bn Nord Stream 2 project to avoid US sanctions

Baker Hughes Co, AXA group and 16 other companies have stopped working on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to avoid US sanctions, according to multiple media reports this evening.

Russian energy company Gazprom and its partners are in the process of building an $11bn pipeline that will supply natural gas from Russia directly to Germany.

Many US lawmakers have argued that the pipeline would increase Russia’s influence over Europe. The pipeline, which would double the capacity of the existing duct, bypasses Ukraine and other Eastern European countries, denying them lucrative transit fees and potentially undermining Ukraine’s interests in the region.

Sanctions looming

On Friday the US State Department told Congress that it had designated the Russian ship Fortuna and its owner under a sanctions law that took effect this year. The two had already been sanctioned once before, by the Trump administration.

The U.S., the world’s largest gas producer, is keen to export liquefied natural gas to Europe as an alternative to Russian gas.

Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, told reporters this week that companies abandoning the pipeline in order to avoid sanctions “demonstrates that the legislative goals and our actions are having a good effect.”

He added that the State Department continues to “examine entities involved in potentially sanctionable activity” and that “sanctions are only one” of many tools to respond to Nord Stream 2.