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US Senate passes bill with Nord Stream 2 sanctions language

Washington — The US Senate on Tuesday passed by an 86-8 vote a defense spending bill which includes new Nord Stream 2 sanctions language. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law before the end of the week.

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The language, included in the National Defense Authorization Act, calls for the US State and Treasury departments to submit a report within 60 days that identifies "vessels that engaged in pipe-laying at depths of 100 feet or more below sea level for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, the TurkStream pipeline project or any project that is a successor to either such project."

Those vessels and identified executives involved with those vessels could then be sanctioned.

"Imposing sanctions that will prevent the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is an important tool to counter Russia's malign influence and to protect the integrity of Europe's energy sector," Senator James Risch, Republican-Idaho and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. "I am glad this year's NDAA includes these widely supported sanctions, and I hope all parties involved will realize that stopping this project is in the best interest of our friends and allies who wish to curb [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's efforts to make Europe reliant on Russian energy."

In a separate statement, Senator John Barrasso, Republican-Wyoming and chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said the sanctions "will help stop this pipeline and eliminate Russia's geopolitical weapon."

The House of Representatives passed the defense spending bill on Wednesday by a 377-48 vote.

The 764-mile Nord Stream 2 will deliver Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea and is expected to double the capacity of the gas corridor to 110 Bcm/year.

According to S&P Global Platts trade flow software cFlow, two Switzerland-based Allseas pipelaying vessels are currently moving in a northeast-southwest direction off the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.

The Pioneering Spirit began laying the Danish part of Nord Stream 2 around November 28 and has tracked some 60% of its route to the border with Germany's Exclusive Economic Zone, according to cFlow.

The Solitaire is around four days behind the Pioneering Spirit, according to cFlow.

The timeline for work to lay the section of pipeline in Danish waters will be key to when Nord Stream 2 is able to begin flowing gas, with wider implications for the European gas market -- including whether Russia's Gazprom agrees a new transit deal with Ukraine's Naftogaz post-2019.

The Danish Energy Agency on October 30 granted a permit to the Nord Stream 2 operator to build the section of the pipeline in Danish waters southeast of Bornholm.

It was followed by a four-week period after the permit was granted for any appeals to be submitted, which ended on November 28, allowing for construction to begin.

-- Brian Scheid,

-- Stuart Elliott,

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,