Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that a new pipeline to Germany has been filled with natural gas, noting that it could help quickly reduce soaring European energy prices.
The $11bn Nord Stream 2 pipeline is currently awaiting approval from Germany and the European Union, and officials warned that a decision won’t come in the first half of 2022.
The first of its two links was filled with gas in October, and Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom natural gas company reported Wednesday that it had completed filling the second one to make it fully ready for operation.
Putin pointed at surging energy prices in Europe, adding that Nord Stream 2 could help quickly stabilize the markets.
“This new additional route will certainly help stabilize prices on the European markets,” Putin said at a meeting with energy officials. “It would undoubtedly affect prices on the spot market, and consumers in the countries that use the Russian gas will immediately feel it.”
The new 1,234-kilometre (765-mile) pipeline, which has an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic metres (1.9 trillion cubic feet), would double the volume of gas pumped by Gazprom directly to Germany, adding to a similar pipeline under the Baltic Sea and circumventing existing links through Poland and Ukraine.
Nord Stream 2 critics in the US, Ukraine and Poland warn that it will increase Russia’s leverage over Europe, pit EU member states against each other, and deprive Ukraine of transit revenues. Washington has stressed targeting Nord Stream 2 to counter any new Russian military move against Ukraine.
Moscow has denied Western allegations that it was hatching plans to attack Ukraine. It has insisted that Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project that will help ensure a more reliable long-term supply and help save billions in transit fees paid to Poland and Ukraine.