Putin: new pipeline to Germany could help cut prices

MOSCOW (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that a new gas pipeline to Germany was completely filled with natural gas, noting that it could help quickly reduce soaring energy prices in Europe.

The $ 11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline is currently awaiting approval from Germany and the European Union, and officials have warned that a decision will not come in the first half of 2022.

The first of its two routes was filled with gas in October, and Russian state-controlled natural gas company Gazprom said on Wednesday it had completed filling the second to make it fully operational.

Putin pointed to the surge in energy prices in Europe, adding that Nord Stream 2 could help stabilize markets quickly.

“This additional new route will certainly help stabilize prices in European markets,” Putin said in a meeting with energy officials. “This would undoubtedly have an impact on prices in the spot market, and consumers in countries that use Russian gas will feel it immediately.”

The new 1,234-kilometer (765-mile) pipeline, which has an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (1.9 trillion cubic feet), would double the volume of gas pumped by Gazprom directly to Germany, adding to a similar pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Sea and bypassing existing links through Poland and Ukraine.

Critics of Nord Stream 2 in the US, Ukraine and Poland warn it will increase Russia’s influence over Europe, pit EU member states against each other and deprive Ukraine of transit income. Washington has stressed that it is targeting Nord Stream 2 to counter any further Russian military action against Ukraine.

Moscow has denied Western claims that it was making plans to attack Ukraine. He insisted that Nord Stream 2 is a purely commercial project that will help ensure a more reliable supply in the long term and save billions of dollars in transit fees paid to Poland and Ukraine.

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