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Pompeo says Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline brings 'enormous security risk' to Europe

Washington — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday the US would keep fighting the 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, declining to rule out the possibility of leveling sanctions against the Russia-to-Germany project.

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"President Trump has been very clear that America is going to do what it can within its power to see that European security is foremost when it comes to energy decisions," Pompeo said during a news conference in Warsaw with Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, according to a State Department transcript.

Nord Stream 2 remains on track to come online by the end of 2019. Five European companies -- Shell, Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, France's Engie and Austria's OMV -- have been helping to finance its construction.

A 2017 US law gives the president discretionary powers to impose sanctions on companies investing in Russian energy export pipelines, such as Nord Stream 2.

Congress proposed a raft of additional measures last year targeting Nord Stream 2 and other Russian energy projects, most of which expired at the end of the year. Three proposals targeting Nord Stream 2 have been introduced since the new Congress took office in January, including resolutions urging the project's cancellation and a bill requiring the State Department, Treasury Department and director of national intelligence to report to Congress on the pipeline's construction.

Asked if the US planned to use sanctions to stop Nord Stream 2, Pompeo said the project "funnels money to Russians in ways that undermine European national security."

"While there's certainly a commercial aspect to that kind of transaction, there is an enormous security risk that is attached to it," he said.

Pompeo is in Warsaw for a State Department conference on Middle East peace and security Wednesday and Thursday. He met with Polish officials Tuesday to discuss energy security and diversification.

Poland received its first US LNG cargo in June 2017.

The US exported roughly 58 Bcf of LNG to Europe in January, about 1 Bcf more than was delivered to Asian LNG buyers, excluding India, marking the second month in a row that Europe has emerged as the premier destination for US LNG, Platts Analytics data showed.

This winter to date, US exports to Europe have vastly exceeded deliveries last year, averaging roughly 47.5 Bcf/month, nearly four times more than was delivered to the Continent last year.

-- Meghan Gordon, meghan.gordon@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com