May 22, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Top European official: Don’t sanction Russian gas pipeline

A top European official is cautioning against the United States imposing sanctions on a natural-gas pipeline being built now between Russia and Germany.

Why it matters: President Trump and Europe have shared interests in exporting American natural gas across the Atlantic, but interests diverge over this pipeline. U.S. officials say the pipeline unnecessarily allows Russia to continue its dominance over European natural gas. Some European leaders have been more supportive of it.

“...even though we say that pipeline is a controversial one, we still think that partners like the U.S. the [European Union], we shouldn’t impose sanctions on individual cases — in this case European companies — because I believe we can always find ways to look for the common solution.”
— European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič

The context: Šefčovič made his comments during an interview with Axios last week in Washington.

Driving the news: Energy Secretary Rick Perry told reporters in Kiev on Tuesday that the U.S. is preparing to sanction companies working on Russia's long-proposed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Reuters reports. Perry said both chambers would pass a sanctions bill and Trump would sign it.

One level deeper: It wasn’t clear what bill Perry was referring to, but Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), introduced a bill last week imposing sanctions on vessels used to construct the deep-sea pipelines.

The other side: A spokesman for the pipeline project, Jens Mueller told S&P Global: "Our shareholder [Russia's Gazprom] and the five European financial investors are fully committed to the project, as are Nord Stream 2's suppliers.”

  • “The European investors are France's Engie, Austria's OMV, Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, and Shell,” per S&P.

Go deeper: Nord Stream 2 explained, via CNBC

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