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Nord Stream 2 'past point of no return': Russia's Gazprom

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Saint Petersburg (AFP)

The controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline set to supply Europe with Russian gas via the Baltic is "past the point of no return" despite obstacles including the threat of US sanctions, the head of Gazprom said Friday.

"We are working from the idea that Nord Stream 2 will be realised strictly in accordance with the planned timetable," Alexei Miller said at an annual shareholders meeting in Saint Petersburg.

This means the pipeline would be completed by the end of this year and in service from the start of 2020.

The 11-billion-euro ($12-billion) energy link between Russia and Germany is to run under the Baltic Sea doubling Russian gas shipments to the EU's biggest economy.

The final major hurdle to clear in the construction of Nord Stream 2 is obtaining an agreement from Denmark that the pipeline can cross its exclusive economic zone, situated outside its territorial waters.

But Miller said, "Work is going ahead. The project has been past the point of no return for some time already, there are no legal means whatsoever to stop the work."

The building of the pipeline has sparked concerns about Western Europe's increasing dependence on Russian gas.

It has also raised fears that Moscow will be able to increase pressure on Ukraine as Europe will be less reliant on the country for transiting supplies.

Delaying the opening of the pipeline would create serious difficulties.

Today the vast majority of Russian gas to Europe transits via Ukraine.

However the current transit deal between Kiev and Moscow expires at the end of 2019 and the estranged neighbours have not been able to come to a fresh agreement.

US President Donald Trump has meanwhile threatened to hit Nord Stream 2 and those tied to it with sanctions.

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