Operator of Nord Stream 2 denies it filed for bankruptcy
The Swiss-based company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline denied on Wednesday that it filed for bankruptcy but confirmed it terminated employee contracts.
Why it matters: Long viewed as a Kremlin influence project that would increase Europe's energy dependence on Russia, Nord Stream 2 was one of the first targets of the flurry of Western sanctions triggered by Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
- A local official told Swiss radio broadcaster SRF on Tuesday that the company had filed for bankruptcy and fired all 106 of its employees.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the certification of the $11 billion natural gas pipeline would be suspended last Tuesday, a day after Putin ordered Russian troops into eastern Ukraine for a "peacekeeping" mission. The pipeline is fully constructed, but gas had not yet started flowing.
- The U.S. followed up by rescinding sanctions waivers on Nord Stream 2 AG and its corporate officers, dealing what was likely the death blow to a project that had caused major headaches for President Biden and the trans-Atlantic alliance.
What they're saying: "We cannot confirm the media reports that Nord Stream 2 has filed for bankruptcy," Nord Stream 2 AG — a wholly owned subsidiary of Russia's Gazprom — said in a statement.
- "The company only informed the local authorities that the company had to terminate contracts with employees following the recent geopolitical developments leading to the imposition of US sanctions on the company," it added.
The company told Reuters on Tuesday that it "had to terminate contracts with employees. We very much regret this development."
Between the lines: Even as the West and private companies have moved to fully isolate Russia over its unprovoked attack on Ukraine, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder — the chairman of the board of Nord Stream 2 AG — has yet to cut his lucrative ties with Russian energy giants.
- Members of his office staff have quit in protest, according to Politico.
Go deeper: Putin's war may herald a new energy era
Editor's note: This article has been updated with a new statement from the operator of Nord Stream 2 denying it filed for bankruptcy.