Nord Stream 2 AG, the builder of the gas pipeline of the same name that was to carry gas from Russia to Germany, a project suspended after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has filed for bankruptcy, Swiss public broadcaster Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) reported today.
The Swiss-based company owned by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, which was affected by international sanctions imposed on Russia after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, has also fired its 106 employees.
“Nord Stream has become insolvent because of the US sanctions last week,” Silvia Thalmann-Gut, director of finance for the Swiss canton of Zug, where the company is based, told SRF radio.
The second phase of the Nord Stream project, aimed at doubling the transport of Russian gas directly through the Baltic from Russia to Germany, completed last year, has been blocked by the decision of the German Chancellor, the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, and was of the first wave of western sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine decided by the Russian president, Vládimir Putin.
For a long time the Nord Stream project, the first phase of which became operational in 2011, was considered a tool for Putin to increase his influence in Western Europe through Europe’s energy dependence on Russia.
Just one day after the beginning of the invasion, Scholz said last week that he was suspending the certification of the gas pipeline, 1,200 kilometers long and whose construction has cost 11,000 million dollars, which only had that last requirement to start operating.
After the recognition of the independence of the Ukrainian Donbas regions by Moscow, just before the invasion, the United States had already imposed sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, its directors, and subsidiary companies, which was the coup de grace of a project highly criticized by Washington for the power it granted to Moscow over energy autonomy in Europe, especially Germany, which obtains half of its gas from Russia.
The financing of the construction of the great work has been carried out 50% by Gazprom, on the one hand, and by the British oil company Shell, the French Engie, the Austrian OMV, and the German Uniper and Wintershall DEA, on the other.
Shell already announced last Monday its intention to divest itself of all the businesses it has with Gazprom in protest at the war in Ukraine, which means giving up, in addition to the Nord Stream 2 project, its 27.5% stake in the Sakhalin-II liquefied natural gas facility, as well as 50% in the Salym and Gydan oil projects in Siberia.