Sept 14 (Reuters) - The alleged nerve agent attack on
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is the latest political
controversy to hit the nearly-completed Nord Stream 2 gas
pipeline, as Germany debates whether to halt the project as part
of potential sanctions against Russia.
Led by Russia's Gazprom with Western partners, the
pipeline, which would double the capacity of the existing Nord
Stream 1 link, is more than 90% completed and scheduled to
operate from early 2021.
The project has split the European Union, with some members
saying it will undermine traditional gas transit state Ukraine
and increase the bloc's energy reliance on Russia.
The United States, keen to increase liquefied natural gas
(LNG) sales to Europe, also opposes the pipeline and has
targeted some companies involved with sanctions.
Here are some key dates in Nord Stream 2's development:
November: Nord Stream 2's forerunner, Nord Stream 1, a
consortium mainly led by Russia's Gazprom, starts deliveries
through a twin pipeline system to Europe under the Baltic Sea.
The system's 55 billion cubic metre (bcm) capacity is equivalent
to enough gas to heat 26 million households.
Gazprom and Western partners start looking into expanding
the system with another two pipelines to add a further 55 bcm of
capacity. The project is estimated to cost 9.5 billion euros
June: Gazprom, Royal Dutch Shell, E.ON,
OMV, BASF and ENGIE agree to
build Nord Stream 2. [https://reut.rs/3haWiiv
March: Eight EU governments - the Czech Republic, Estonia,
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Romania -
object to the project, saying it would have potentially
destabilising geopolitical consequences."
April: Nord Stream 2 AG signs the financing agreements for
the project with ENGIE, OMV, Shell, E.ON offshoot Uniper
, and BASF's subsidiary Wintershall [https://reut.rs/2FgjZZZ
January: Germany grants Nord Stream 2 a permit for
construction and operation in German waters and landfall areas
near Lubmin in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
September: pipe-laying operations start in the Baltic Sea
January - the U.S. ambassador to Germany warns companies
involved in the pipeline's construction that they could face
sanctions if they stick with the project [https://bit.ly/2FhqaN3
December - Swiss-Dutch company Allseas suspends its
pipe-laying activities in anticipation of U.S. President Donald
Trump signing a defence policy bill, which includes sanctions on
firms laying pipes for Nord Stream 2.
December: The group behind Nord Stream 2 says it aims to
complete the pipeline, despite the U.S. sanctions threat.
December: Trump signs the bill.
January: Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes Nord
Stream 2 will be finished by the end of the first quarter of
2021. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she believes the
project is legitimised by European regulation and therefore
should be completed. [https://reut.rs/2ZnOML8]
May: Germany's energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur,
declines to grant a waiver of EU gas directives to the operators
of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that require separate operators
for the production, transport and distribution of energy on
May: An EU court throws out a challenge to EU gas rules from
the operators of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines,
saying it was up to individual members states to enforce them.
Applying the gas rules costs time and money, but doesn't
question the pipeline operations as such.
June: Poland starts proceedings against Gazprom, alleging
the company has not cooperated with the country's anti-monopoly
proceedings regarding Nord Stream 2. [nW8N28600O
August: Poland fines Gazprom 213 million zloty ($57 million)
for a lack of cooperation in the matter.
Sept. 3: Pressure mounts on Merkel to reconsider the
pipeline, after she says Navalny was poisoned with a
Soviet-style nerve agent.
Sept. 7: Merkel's spokesman tells German newspaper Bild am
Sonntag she has questioned the project.
September 8: Merkel and her economy minister play down the
possibility of halting the pipeline
Sept. 11: The premier of the German state of
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where Nord Stream 2 would come ashore,
says the pipeline should not be used to punish Moscow over the
Navalny case. Merkel wants to agree a response with EU
Sept. 14: A Berlin government spokesman renews calls on
Russia to explain the events surrounding Navalny's
($1 = 0.8424 euros)
(Reporting by Tommy Lund and Bartosz Dabrowski in Gdansk,
editing by Vera Eckert, Edward Taylor and Mark Potter)