(AFP) — The operator of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany — criticized by some Western countries as a geopolitical weapon — said Wednesday it was ready to begin delivering gas.
But Germany's energy regulator BNetzA earlier this month said the approval process for the pipeline is likely to drag into the second half of 2022.
"As of December 29, the gas-in procedure for the second string of the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline has been completed," operating company Nord Stream 2 AG said in a statement.
"This pressure is sufficient to start gas transportation in the future," the Switzerland-based company added.
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday confirmed that Russia was ready to send gas via Nord Stream 2 as soon as German authorities give their approval.
"As soon as they decide to start work, large volumes — additional volumes — of Russian gas will immediately begin to flow to Europe," he said on state television.
Gas prices in Europe have been ticking up over the past week, and Putin suggested that launching the pipeline would send them back down.
"This, of course, will immediately affect the price on the market, on the spot, and all those countries and consumers of those countries that consume Russian gas, of course, will immediately feel this," he said.
Nord Stream 2 was completed in September but BNetzA suspended the German approval process in November, saying it needed to become compliant with German law before it could be certified.
The Baltic Sea pipeline has for years divided European capitals and raised tensions between the EU and Washington, with critics saying the project will increase Europe's dependence on Russian gas.
Western countries have for weeks accused Russia of limiting gas deliveries to put pressure on Europe amid tensions over the Ukraine conflict and to push through Nord Stream 2.
Putin and Russian energy giant Gazprom have rejected the accusations.
© Agence France-Presse
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