Nord Stream 2 registers a German subsidiary, while certification remains suspended

MOSCOW/FRANKFURT, Jan 26 (Reuters) – The operator of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline said on Wednesday it has registered a subsidiary for the German part of the route to meet local regulatory requirements, although certification of the project remains suspended by Berlin.

Europe’s most controversial energy project, Nord Stream 2, is designed to double the amount of gas flowing from Russia directly to Germany, bypassing the traditional transit country of Ukraine on the Baltic seabed.

The plan has faced resistance within the European Union, the United States and Ukraine, alleging that it increases Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and denies Ukraine transit rights, at a time of increased confrontation between Moscow and the West.

Nord Stream 2 said the subsidiary, Gas for Europe GmbH, will be based in the German city of Schwerin.

It will own and operate the 54-kilometre section of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline located in German territorial waters and the Lubmin landing facility as an independent transmission operator, the company said, to comply with German regulations.

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The pipeline was built in September but has been sitting idle since then pending certification from Germany and the European Union.

Germany’s Federal Network News – which regulates the country’s electricity, gas, telecommunications, postal and railway sectors – suspended the pipeline’s certification process in November, arguing that the operator had to register a legal entity in Germany.

The regulator said on Wednesday that the certification procedure will remain suspended until the transfer of the main assets and human resources to the subsidiary has been completed and the Federal Networks News is in a position to verify the integrity of the unit’s documents.

Uniper, one of the financial backers of Nord Stream 2, expects the pipeline to be available for gas transportation from the start of the upcoming winter heating season in October.

Russia has said commissioning the pipeline would ease Europe’s gas crisis, which last month saw natural gas prices soar to record highs amid tight supplies and an economic recovery from the pandemic.

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Some politicians and industry experts in Europe have accused Russia of deliberately limiting gas flows to the West in order to speed up the start of gas sales through Nord Stream 2, a charge Russia denies.

(Reporting by Anton Kolodyazhnyy, Polina Devitt and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow and Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt; edited in Spanish by Benjamín Mejías Valencia)