DUESSELDORF — Germany’s energy regulator has asked Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG to provide assurances that the controversial pipeline meets regulatory requirements when it enters service, adding it cannot be ruled out that operations could start soon.
Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 was designed by Moscow to bypass Ukraine with its gas exports to Europe and has faced political opposition from Washington, which fears the continent will become too dependent on Russian gas.
Kremlin critics have accused Russia of trying to speed up the approval process by deliberately not doing enough to supply Europe with gas during an energy crunch that has seen gas prices soar. The Kremlin has said Russia is fulfilling all its obligations under existing natural gas contracts.
“The Federal Network Agency today requested Nord Stream 2 AG to provide information and, if necessary, evidence that all regulatory requirements will be met in the context of operating the pipeline,” Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) said in a statement.
“This relates in particular to issues of non-discriminatory network access and the integration of the interconnector into the German market area.”
BNetzA said it made the request as it could not be ruled out that operations could start shortly.
Nord Stream 2, which will pump gas from Russia to Germany, earlier said it had started filling one of its two pipelines with natural gas for tests.
While the 1,200-km, twin-track pipeline is technically complete, it needs transmission operator status from the German energy regulator, a process which started on Sept. 8 and could take up to four months to be completed.
Were Nord Stream 2 to start operating the pipeline without certification of BNetzA it would violate German law and possibly trigger a fine, the regulator has warned.
“Nord Stream 2 will continue to undertake all necessary efforts to ensure compliance with all applicable rules and regulations,” the operator said, adding this included regulation in Germany.
The operational Nord Stream pipeline runs via the Baltic Sea, with annual capacity of 55 bcm. Nord Stream 2, running in parallel to Nord Stream, would double capacity. (Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)