The Russian pipe-laying barge Fortuna, capable of completing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and its owner will fall under new U.S. sanctions on Tuesday, January 19, writes the German edition Handelsblatt.
The decision is based on Countering America’s Adversaries with Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was recently tightened by Congress. The newspaper notes that this is the first time in the history of the standoff over Nord Stream 2 when the US not only threatens the companies involved in the project with restrictive measures but also imposes them. The US Embassy in Germany declined to comment on the sanctions before they are imposed. They said they still expect Berlin to reconsider its attitude toward the pipeline from Russia.
However, it remains unclear how the sanctions against Fortuna will work. The standard set about the prohibition of operations and blocking of accounts, most likely, will not work, because the owner of the vessel has changed many times and he is unlikely to care about possible restrictions, the material says.
“Fortuna” became the main candidate for the completion of the pipeline in recent weeks, before that it was thought that the more modern pipelayer “Akademik Chersky” will do the work.
On January 15, Denmark gave permission to resume construction, but Nord Stream 2 AG, the operator, postponed it for at least two weeks, citing the need for additional testing. A similar permit from the German regulator was suspended because of 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 pulled out of the project under threat of sanctions. The start of the gas pipeline operator has been postponed by six months – until the summer of 2021.