MOSCOW (Reuters) – Testing work on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany will start next week, Alexander Drozdenko, governor of the Leningrad region where the pipeline starts, was cited as saying by the TASS news agency on Wednesday.
The United States last month waived sanctions on the company behind the pipeline to Germany and its chief executive, a move decried by critics of the project in the U.S. Congress, but welcomed this week by the Kremlin.
The project, led by Gazprom with its Western partners, aims to deliver Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea, but has long been opposed by Washington which says it would dangerously increase Moscowâ€™s regional clout.
The pipeline would bypass Ukraine, potentially depriving it of lucrative transit revenues at a time when Kyiv is locked in a confrontation with Moscow though the Kremlin says it would continue to use Ukraine as a gas transit country.
“Yesterday there was an inspection of Russian facilities. ..which will start working in a test regime from next week in preparation for sending gas to the German side,” TASS cited Drozdenko as saying.
Nord Stream 2 said it could not provide new information.
As of March 31, 95% of the pipeline was built, it said.
“We are not in a position to deliver construction details at this point and will inform you about further planning, as well as updated pipe lay status in due time,” Nord Stream 2 said in emailed comments to Reuters.
Drozdenko was cited as saying he had met representatives from the project’s German side on Wednesday.
“We were just discussing that the project has reached the final stretch,” he said.
German climate protection group Deutsche Umwelthilfe said on Wednesday it had applied for Nord Stream 2’s construction and operating permit to be revoked in Germany on climate protection grounds, based on a verdict from Germany’s top constitutional court.
The court forced Germany earlier this month to tighten its climate law after plaintiffs, including North Sea islanders fearing rising sea levels, challenged a 2019 climate law.
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Oksana Kobzeva and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow and by Kirsti Knolle in Germany; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Andrew Osborn)