Russia can complete Nord Stream 2 with its own ships, but no sooner than 2024
After the U.S. imposed sanctions against companies building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Russia was left without capacities to complete the underwater pipeline that was going to be launched in 2020.
Russian shipbuilders can construct pipe-laying ships that would complete the pipeline, but it would take from four to six years, according to Alexei Rakhmanov, president of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation.
The U.S. imposed sanctions against companies building the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Dec. 20. It primarily affected the German companies that invested in the project and may not get their revenues on time and Allseas Group, the Swiss-Dutch contractor that was laying pipelines for Russia. The company pulled out from works on Dec. 23.
According to Rakhmanov, Russia can replace them with its own ships, but it will push the launch date at least till 2024. The Nord Stream 2 is now 93.5% completed.
“As far as I know, we don’t have any ships ready for this job,” Rakhmanov told Russian state TV channel Rossiya 24 on Dec. 24. “It will take one or two years to design such a ship, and another three or four years to actually build it.”
Nevertheless, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev tried to sound optimistic when he commented on the Nord Stream 2 sanctions on Dec. 23. He said the pipeline would be completed despite sanctions. It will just take “a little more time.”
“We are talking about months. One month more, one month less – it does not change a thing,” said Medvedev. “It will probably take us a few months more.”
The completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline threatens Ukraine since it will give Russia a way to transport gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine. Because of the U.S. sanctions, Ukraine was able to agree on a new gas transit deal with Russia on Dec. 20.
The new five-year deal requires a minimum of 65 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to be transferred through Ukraine’s territory in 2020. From January to November 2019, 81.5 billion cubic meters of Russian gas passed through Ukraine’s transit system, according to Ukraine’s state-owned gas and oil company Naftogaz.