The Russian pipe-laying barge Fortuna, capable of completing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and its owner on Tuesday, January 19, will be subject to new US sanctions, writes the German newspaper Handelsblatt.
The decision is based on Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was recently tightened by Congress. As the newspaper notes, this is the first time in the entire confrontation over Nord Stream 2, when the United States not only threatens the companies involved in the project with restrictive measures but also introduces them.
The US Embassy in Germany declined to comment on the sanctions prior to their introduction. They indicated that they still expect Berlin to reconsider its attitude to the gas pipeline from Russia.
However, it remains unclear how the sanctions against Fortuna will operate. The standard set of banning transactions and blocking accounts will most likely not work, because the owner of the vessel has changed many times and is unlikely to care about possible restrictions, the article says.
Fortuna has become the main candidate for the completion of the pipeline in recent weeks, before that it was believed that the more modern pipelayer Akademik Chersky would be involved in the work.
Denmark allowed construction to resume on January 15, but operator Nord Stream 2 AG postponed it for at least two weeks, citing the need for additional testing. A similar permit from the German regulator has been suspended due to complaints from environmental organizations.
If Nord Stream 2 is completed, the company will have to deal with certification and insurance issues. The Norwegian DNV GL and the Swiss Zurich Insurance Group have already withdrawn from the project under the threat of sanctions. The start date of the gas pipeline operation has now been postponed by six months вЂ” until the summer of 2021.