ANKARA: The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed by US President Donald Trump on Friday, includes a measure to sanction companies involved in Russian natural gas pipelines to Europe.
The move will affect the nearly finished Nord Stream 2, which runs from Russia to Germany, and TurkStream, a Russian pipeline that traverses the Black Sea to Turkey.
Swiss-Dutch company Allseas announced on Saturday that it had suspended work on building a major natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany in order to avoid US sanctions contained in the legislation.
Experts said that although the bill includes both Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream, the former will be much more affected.
Madalina Sisu Vicari, an expert on geopolitics and Turkey, said that despite NDAA coming into force, the sanctions from the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act have not started, as the US has 60 days to identify “vessels that engaged in pipe-laying at depths of 100 feet or more below sea level for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, the TurkStream pipeline project.”
The bill calls on the Trump administration to identify companies working under the project within 60 days to activate the sanctions. If a company is identified, it would then be blacklisted by the US, unless the president decided the company was decreasing its operations. The president could also waive the sanctions over national security considerations.
“While it is indisputable that the only company that falls under the law’s provision is AllSeas, it is also evident that the sanctions, if implemented by Trump’s administration, will not affect TurkStream because the offshore section of TurkStream is finished,” Vicari told Arab News.
Gazprom announced the completion of the offshore section of TurkStream in the Black Sea on Nov. 19.
“The pipeline’s offshore section was finalized ahead of schedule — its completion had been planned for December — and one of main reasons might have been attempt to avoid the sanctions targeting TurkStream.
The NDAA sanctions will come too late for TurkStream,” Vicari said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently announced that “neither Nord Stream 2 nor TurkStream will stop.”
TurkStream aims at bringing Russian gas to Turkey under the Black Sea in January 2020, with Western companies involved in the production phase and offshore pipe laying.