Dr Thomas W. O'Donnell, an international academic, analyst, and consultant on the global energy system, specializing on oil and gas, and international affairs, of the Hertie School in Berlin, sat down with Euronews to offer his perspective on the prospects for the completion of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine.
Asked by a Euronews host on Friday, December 4, whether he thinks the project is "unstoppable," the expert said: "To the contrary, it's dead.""I mean, perhaps anybody who's watched European geopolitics for a while knows there are sort of – what shall we say – Russian disinformation campaigns, and there's something quite complex going on here. In a nutshell, there's 2.6 kilometers of the pipeline that are less than 30 meters of water, and the sanctions apply to over 30 meters of water. So as a sort of propaganda thing, to show that the pipeline is supposedly still alive, the Russians who own this 100% [of shares in Nord Stream 2] are carrying this out," the pundit said.
But in the rest of the area, O'Donnell added, in Danish waters especially, the pipe "cannot" and "will not" be completed.
The reason is U.S. sanctions, the expert stressed, adding that he sees no way Russia could get around them.
As for the German government, they prefer to not say the pipe is dead not to "have some liability with the company, so it's a delicate matter for them."
Read also Inglorious end of Nord Stream 2 would herald string of defeats for Putin's Russia The EU, on its part, "never backed this pipeline, the [European] Parliament has voted against it, has made it very clear, and the European Commission has basically consistently been against this."
"And they tried – Berlin in Moscow – to do this under German law, and the EU forced European law on it," O'Donnell noted.
Commenting on whether the U.S. sanctions stance will prevail following the change in the presidential administration, the expert recalled bipartisan support for such sanctions.
Elaborating on the reasons why he thinks the project would not be completed due to U.S. sanctions, the expert pointed to the issues of insurance and certification.
Read also Zelensky thanks Poland for decisive stance on Nord Stream 2 The association representing 90% of insurance companies in the world has told its members not to insure the pipe, the expert said.
"There's a certification organization called DNVGL, a Norwegian company, and there's only a few companies that certify all the construction with their proprietary standards. When confronted by the American officials, they backed down – they will not certify the pipeline, they will not certify the [pipe-laying] ship," O'Donnell stressed. "The Danes require that this organization certify the pipeline in their waters."
If any other company capable of performing such tasks stepped up, they would not want to be sanctioned either, the expert is confident: "They're building so many companies for the Americans…"
Read also Nord Stream 2: Norway firm suspends work on U.S. sanctions anxiety Also, the expert added, "tens of German companies have gotten calls this month informing them that if they proceed, they'll be sanctioned."
"And this report is going to Congress, the State Department will send it in the next few days as to my understanding, listing the companies that have and have not cooperated," O'Donnell noted. "Whatever you might think about it, this is extremely effective."