To complete the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, advanced European Technology... How Russia manages to evade US sanctions, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports, citing its own investigation.
Until recently, the Akademik Chersky, which had been transferred from the Far East to the Baltic, did not have the necessary equipment. But at the end of March 2021, the pipelayer started laying pipes near the island of Rügen (Germany).
Each piece of piping equipment has its own story.
- indicated on the website of Nuova Patavium (Italy), which recently supplied equipment to the pipe-laying vessel "Akademik Chersky".
The Italians have equipped the ship with the latest precision tube processing system. These data are of interest in light of the US sanctions that threaten anyone who is somehow involved in the completion of Nord Stream 2. The Russians managed to bypass the US restrictions and re-equip the ship, despite the fact that if the contract is worth more than $ 1 million (850 thousand euros), fines are provided.
In the period August-September 2020, various pipe-laying equipment worth about 10 million euros was delivered to the German port of Mukran for the subsidiary of the Russian Gazprom (STIF). The equipment manufacturers are companies from the Netherlands and Italy.
For example, on September 12, processing systems with hydraulic drives from Nuova Patavium in the amount of $ 1,1 million were sent from Russia to Germany. It turned out that the specified equipment came to Russia from Italy in two batches with an interval of several months. Moreover, each batch was estimated at less than $ 200 thousand.
Nuova Patavium still hasn't responded to DW's request for a price difference. At the same time, the more American restrictions are tightened, the more confusing the supply chain becomes.
The buyer of the equipment is Sistema SPB (St. Petersburg), which has only a few employees. In addition to Nuova Patavium, the aforementioned Russian company also purchased equipment for the pipelayer from Opus SRL (Italy). A similar story happened with Opus SRL equipment. It came to Germany at a price of $ 1,2 million, and from Italy it was exported at a price 10 times less. Opus SRL did not respond to DW's request either.
The focus was also on Vermaat Technics BV (the Netherlands), whose ultra-modern stand-alone non-turn welding machine Veraweld Torch System D was delivered to the port of Mukran by STIF for the Akademik Chersky ship.
We do not know what is happening on board the Akademik Chersky. We did not supply any equipment to complete the laying of Nord Stream 2
- the Dutch company claims, convincing that after July 2020 (toughening of US sanctions) it stopped cooperation with Russia.
Indeed, on paper, Vermaat Technics BV had no dealings with STIF. The equipment was delivered not to the subsidiary of the Russian Gazprom, but to Vermaat Service, which, as the Dutch firm insists, has nothing to do with it and is a company from Russia.
DW was able to establish that now another Dutch company, BHS International BV, is supplying Vermaat Technics BV equipment. They only managed to find the mailbox of this company, located somewhere in the countryside in the southeast of the country, as well as an inactive website. The Internet domain is registered to a Russian company and BHS International has a common partner with Vermaat Service. In general, Akademik Chersky received equipment from the Netherlands for almost $ 5 million.
Roundabout supply, shell companies, and price manipulation raise the question - are Americans so easy to fool? At the same time, a former employee of the US State Department, Daniel Fried, doubts that European companies will be punished. The United States fears counter-sanctions from the EU countries. Nick Tsafos of the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies agrees with him. He believes that the Joe Biden administration will turn a blind eye to these "pranks".
Akademik Chersky is due to finish laying pipes in September 2021. After the re-equipment, this vessel can work twice as fast as TUB "Fortuna", which is now laying pipes near the island of Bornholm (Denmark).