FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
July 19, 2021
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and Germany are expected to announce a deal resolving their longstanding dispute over Russia’s $11 billion Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline in coming days, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
U.S. President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel failed to settle their differences over the undersea pipeline when they met last week, but agreed Moscow must not be allowed to use energy as a weapon against its neighbors.
A deal is now in sight after continued robust discussions among U.S. and German officials about U.S. concerns that the pipeline, which is 98% complete, will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, and could rob Ukraine of the transit fees it now collects on gas pumped through an existing pipeline.
“It’s looking good,” said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are still ongoing. “We expect those conversations to reach resolution in coming days.”
A second source said the discussions said the two sides were nearing an agreement that would avert resumption of currently waived U.S. sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG, the company behind the pipeline and its chief executive.
The Biden administration concluded in May that Nord Stream 2 AG and its CEO engaged in sanctionable behavior. But Biden waived the sanctions to allow time to work out a deal and keep rebuilding ties with Germany that were badly frayed during former President Donald Trump’s administration.
Details about the agreement were not immediately available, but one key component will be increased investment by both countries aimed at supporting Ukraine’s energy transformation, energy efficiency and energy security, the sources said.
It was not immediately clear whether both countries would announce significant government investments, or whether they would seek to leverage private investments in Ukraine.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Heather Timmons and Chizu Nomiyama)