MOSCOW (AP) - The United States could impose sanctions on a new Russia-Germany gas pipeline, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Thursday during a visit to Moscow.
Eastern European countries and the U.S. oppose the pipeline on the grounds that it would increase Europe’s energy dependence on Russia. The U.S. is also interested in selling more of its liquefied natural gas in Europe.
He declined to specify what level of progress on Nord Stream 2 could trigger sanctions, or what form they might take.
“We are concerned with the statements made and with the general position with regard to future sanctions against a very competitive project which is in the interests of European consumers,” he said.
Perry said Nord Stream 2, which will run alongside an existing pipeline, would “create a new choke point at a shallow depth vulnerable to disruption.” He called on Russia “to stop using its resources for influence and disruption.”
Perry added the U.S. supports “the desire of Europeans to minimize their dependence on a single energy supplier” and supports increased competition on gas including producers like Azerbaijan.
Analyst Chris Weafer of Macro-Advisory, a consultancy, said sanctioning the Russian energy sector over Nord Stream could be difficult because of its vast size and dominant market position in Europe. Instead, Weafer argues, the U.S. may try to cut a deal.
Thursday’s talks suggest some form of negotiation is taking place, Weafer said.
“When (U.S. President Donald) Trump came to Europe in July, practically the first thing he said when he got off the plane was to condemn Nord Stream 2. It raised the idea that there was some sort of barter possibility on Nord Stream and maybe they are willing to ease up on Nord Stream pressure in exchange for something from the Russians.”
The 1,230-kilometer (764-mile) pipeline is led by Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom along with other European investors. Work is under way to prepare the seabed, though the pipeline’s route through or around Danish waters is uncertain because the project has yet to receive a permit.
“No obstacles are insurmountable,” Novak said.
Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.
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