Russian Pipe Layer Vessel Defies US Sanctions and Starts Work in Danish Waters

Russian Pipe Layer Vessel Defies US Sanctions and Starts Work in Danish Waters Heightening Tensions.

THE RUSSIAN pipelaying vessel Fortuna has started working at the Nord Stream 2 construction site in Danish waters, defying new U.S. sanctions against the controversial gas-pipeline project.

Russia is ready to set up a dialogue with the new Biden administration in which differences are expected to be aired, a Kremlin spokesman said on Sunday, Jan. 24, adding that President Vladimir Putin would respond in kind to US willingness to talk.

Relations between Russia and US have been at their lowest since the end of the Cold War, with the two sides at odds over Russia’s role in Ukraine and allegations of its meddling in US elections, which it denies, among other issues.

The work being done in the Danish exclusive economic zone is “performed in line with relevant permits” and precede the actual construction of the gas link, a spokeswoman for Nord Stream 2 AG said in an email read by a person close to the matter  The Danish authorities allowed “preparatory works and tests before pipelay works start,” she said.

The statement comes just days after the U.S. State Department placed sanctions on the Fortuna and its assumed owner, the Russia-based KVT-Rus, aiming to halt construction of the pipeline from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea. The U.S. maintains that the gas link gives Moscow too much leverage over Europe’s gas supplies and threatens the energy security of the region.

Construction of the 1,230-kilometer (764-mile) gas pipeline was frozen after U.S. sanctions in December 2019, when all but 160 kilometres of the link had been put in place. Last December, construction resumed in Germany’s exclusive economic zone, where the Fortuna built 2.6 kilometres of the pipeline.

Amid risks of tighter U.S. restrictions, Zurich Insurance Group AG terminated all of its coverages impacted by the sanctions and engineering firm Bilfinger SE is said to have cut ties with the project. The move follows those of certification company Norway’s Det Norske Veritas Holding AS and the Danish engineering firm Ramboll.

 


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Tony Winterburn

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