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No 'Plan B' presented to Austria's OMV on Nord Stream 2 gas link: CEO

No 'Plan B' presented to Austria's OMV on Nord Stream 2 gas link: CEO

Vienna, February 7 - Neftegaz.RU. The developer of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany has not presented Austria's OMV - which is helping to finance the controversial project - with a "Plan B" on how to complete construction of the line, OMV CEO Rainer Seele said, S&P Global Platts reported.

Just 160 km of the total length of the 2,460 km 2-string line is left to lay after contractor Allseas halted pipe-laying work due to US sanctions signed into law in mid-December threatening measures against companies helping to build the project.

Russia has said it can complete the 55 Bcm/year project by itself, with a pipe-laying vessel called the Akademik Cherskiy currently in the port of Nakhodka widely expected to carry out the work.

"I haven't received an invitation from the Nord Stream 2 company that they would like to present the Plan B to us," Seele told analysts after OMV released its Q4 earnings. "So that's the reason why I [can] tell you that the pipe-lay activities will not restart shortly," he said.

Vladimir Putin in mid-January said the pipeline may not start flowing gas until the first quarter of 2021.

More US sanctions

In the meantime, there has been speculation that the US could be preparing more sanctions to target the project in addition to those already enshrined in law.

R.Seele declined to comment on what new measures could be imposed after German newspaper Handelsblatt suggested they could include targeted sanctions against companies helping finance the project.

"I'm not joining the club of speculators on what kind of additional sanctions might come. I see that in the press. But at the end of the day, we have to deal with the situation as it is," Seele said.

He added that the delay to the completion of the project would not impact on the rate of return of OMV's participation. Seele said OMV had already financed around Eur700 million of its share, "so we are not expecting high cash calls from the Nord Stream 2 company in 2020."

The delay, he said, meant that the cash return would come "a bit later" but at a higher level. "We feel comfortable that the risk in the project is not that we are losing our money," he said.

OMV, along with 4 other European energy companies -- France's Engie, Anglo-Dutch Shell, and Germany's Uniper and Wintershall -- each committed Eur950 million to the Eur9.5 billion project, adding up to 50% of the expected total cost.

Nord Stream 2 -- which has been criticized by the European Commission, the US and countries in eastern Europe for focusing too much European gas import capacity on one route and one source --- will double the Russia-Germany subsea gas export corridor to 110 Bcm/year.

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