MOSCOW/BERLIN (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline would be completed by the end of the year or in the first quarter of 2021, after sanctions imposed by the United States delayed construction.
The pipeline, which will carry Russian gas to Europe avoiding transit across Ukraine, requires some 160 kilometres of pipes to be laid and was initially expected to be in operation in the first half of 2020.
Last month, the Swiss-Dutch company Allseas suspended pipe laying after Washington imposed sanctions against Nord Stream 2, saying the pipeline would make Europe too reliant on Russian gas.
“We, of course, would be able to finish construction on our own and without involving foreign partners,” Putin told a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday in Moscow.
Russian state gas company Gazprom has two pipe-laying vessels which it could use to do the job.
“I believe that this project is legitimised by new European regulation and that we therefore should complete it,” Merkel told the same press-conference.
She added that irrespective of Nord Stream 2, Germany and other European countries “all have an interest in the diversification of their gas deliveries and will continue to work in this direction.”
Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow, Andreas Rinke, Sabine Siebold and Edward Taylor in Berlin; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Katya Golubkova; Editing by Frances Kerry, Kirsten Donovan