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Fighting Nord Stream 2: Washington has taken a step back

A new bill has been introduced in the House of representatives of the US Congress called “on clarifying the law on protecting the energy security of Europe”, aimed at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. At the same time, unlike the previous version, it contains more lenient sanctions against construction participants.

“Congressmen Adam Kinzinger, Denny heck, Mike Turner and Ruben Gallego introduced a bill that clarifies and expands sanctions for the construction of the gas pipeline,” — said in a message posted on Twitter by Adam Kinzinger.

The current document has undergone a number of fundamental changes in comparison with the draft of Ted Cruz and Jinn Sheikhin, which was submitted to the Senate in early June. In particular, American lawmakers decided to withdraw from the European state structures that will be engaged in certification of the pipeline, it is testing and inspection.

At the same time, it suggests blacklisting insurance companies that serve the vessels involved in laying the pipe. In addition, the restrictive measures will also affect European private firms that provide technical modernization of these ships.

According to the proposed document, it is planned to impose sanctions not only against vessels that directly “lay pipes”, but also against those who are engaged in “preparing the place of laying, digging trenches for pipes, land management, filling stones, flexible and welding pipes”, etc.

Restrictions can also be imposed on foreign individuals, companies and their managers who provide services for “underwriting [insurance risk assessment], or reinsurance of vessels” involved in laying pipes for Nord Stream 2. As well as against service providers and facilities for “ technological modernization or installation of welding equipment, modification or retrofitting of vessels, connecting vessels [in tandem]”.

The previous bill, we recall, also provided for sanctions against those who provide services for” testing, inspection and certification “ of the gas pipeline. These sanctions were considered the most sensitive because, without a final certificate of compliance, the pipeline could not be put into operation. This certificate should be issued by the Norwegian company DNV GL. German authorities also feared that the Kruse — Sheikhin bill could be extended to German state agencies, such as the regulator BNetzA, which must approve the operation of Nord Stream 2. In addition, it assumed the retroactive effect: if passed by Congress and signed by the President, its provisions on sanctions would take effect from December 2019.

If the bill is passed, only those companies that continued to provide these services as of the date of the bill's adoption will face penalties for insuring pipe-laying vessels or for retrofitting vessels.

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