Russian Nord Stream Pipeline Vessel Docked at Construction Site

(Bloomberg) -- Satellite photos show the ship that is a prime candidate to finish the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Russia and Europe has docked at a key port in Germany.

The Akademik Cherskiy has moved into the port of Mukran, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Berlin, where it remained stationed next to sections of pipeline and another Russian ship, according to a May 12 image captured by Planet Labs Inc. It was anchored offshore earlier in the week after completing a 90-day circumnavigation of the globe.

Russian Nord Stream Pipeline Vessel Docked at Construction Site

The Akademik Cherskiy departed from the Sea of Japan in February, before the full force of Covid-19 washed over European economies. As it navigated from the Pacific, around the Horn of Africa and into the Baltic Sea, the global death toll from the pandemic rose to about 287,000 from just 904 on Feb. 9. European benchmark prices for natural gas tumbled more than 40% to record lows during the ship’s journey.

Nord Stream 2 AG said Friday it plans to finish its undersea pipeline, designed to expand the volume of imported Russian natural gas into Europe’s manufacturing hub, even after German regulators issued another legal blow to the project. The U.S. is seeking to block completion of the project over long-standing concern that additional flows of Russian gas would increase the Kremlin’s political leverage over European Union countries. Washington has repeatedly suggested Europe should buy more U.S. liquified natural gas instead.

Russian Work on Pipeline Proceeds Despite German Legal Blow

Russian Nord Stream Pipeline Vessel Docked at Construction Site

Nord Stream 2 is seeking ways to avoid the effect of the sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump that forced workers to retreat. The prospect that the Russian ship could be about to embark upon the final leg of construction is already being admonished by U.S. politicians.

“The sanctions on Nord Stream 2 were endorsed by the entire U.S. government and there is absolutely no wiggle room,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz wrote to the Atlantic Council. “If Gazprom uses the Akademik Cherskiy to finish the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the U.S. President must and will impose sanctions on Gazprom. Their officers would lose their ability to come to the U.S. and all of their assets would be blocked, and that’s just for starters.”

The ship remained docked as of 9:50 a.m. on Saturday, according to its transponder data.

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