* Germany is yet to certify Nord Stream 2 pipeline
* Russia wants to start gas supplies via NS2 this year
* U.S., Ukraine oppose the NS2 project
MOSCOW, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Gazprom said on Friday
it had finished construction of the Nord Stream 2 subsea
pipeline to Germany, which could allow Russia to double
lucrative gas exports to Europe via the Baltic Sea while
bypassing and cutting off a source of income for political foe
Although German regulators have yet to clear gas flows,
completion of the construction stage means Russia has boosted
its energy exporting capabilities towards Europe both from the
north in the Baltic Sea and from the south in the Black Sea,
where it operates the TurkStream pipeline.
"The head of the management board, Alexei Miller, told the
morning meeting at Gazprom that the construction of Nord Stream
2 was fully completed today in the morning at 0845 Moscow time,"
Gazprom started construction of the 1,200-km long Nord
Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany five years ago.
Progress of the $11 billion project stalled at the end of 2019
when then U.S. president Donald Trump imposed sanctions.
Construction restarted around a year later with the
engagement of Russia's own vessels.
The route, jointly with the existing Nord Stream pipeline,
will double annual export capacity to 110 billion cubic metres,
around half of Russia's total gas exports to Europe a year.
The project has drawn criticism from the United States and
Ukraine among others. Washington says it will increase Europe's
reliance on Russian energy supplies.
The United States is seeking to boost sales of sea-borne
liquefied natural gas to Europe, and has touted its
super-chilled gas exports as "molecules of freedom".
Gazprom is Europe's largest supplier of natural gas,
accounting for more than a third of the region's gas market.
On Thursday, Russia said pumping commercial gas supplies via
Nord Stream 2 would not start until a German regulator gives the
The Swiss-based Nord Stream 2 AG consortium said in a
statement it has completed welding the pipeline with help from
Russian vessel Fortuna.
"The required pre-commissioning activities will be carried
out with the goal to put the pipeline into operation before the
end of this year," it said.
NO CLEARANCE YET
Gazprom's announcement on the construction completion was
met with scepticism in Kyiv, which risks losing billions of
dollars in gas transit fees if Moscow halts gas supplies via
Russia's five-year gas transit deal with Ukraine expires
after 2024. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Ukraine
must show good will if it wants to continue.
"Constructed doesn't mean to put it on stream. And this
won't happen until the pipeline is certified," Olha Belkova, a
manager at Ukraine's gas pipelines operator, said in emailed
comments to Reuters.
Carlos Torres Diaz, head of Power and Gas Markets at
analysis firm Rystad Energy, said it takes time for gas to flow
via pipes of Nord Stream 2.
"There hasn't really been a reaction from the market so far
so I guess this just also confirms expectations that no
commercial deliveries are expected in the short term," he said.
The Kremlin said "everyone" was interested in Nord Stream 2
Before Germany's energy regulator approves Nord Stream 2, it
must comply with European unbundling rules that require
pipelines owners to be different from suppliers of gas flowing
in them to ensure fair competition.
Gazprom's Western partners are Germany's Uniper,
BASF's Wintershall Dea, Anglo-Dutch oil
major Shell, Austria's OMV and French energy
The German regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, said it does
not know how long it will take to reach a decision on
certification but it can penalise the consortium if it starts
operations without approval.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Oksana Kobzeva in Moscow,
Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv, Vera Eckert in Frankfurt and Nora Buli
in Oslo; editing by Jason Neely, David Evans, Elaine Hardcastle
and David Gregorio)