The United States government has long maintained that the development of a second Nord Stream gas pipeline would render Europe too dependent on gas from Russia, making the continent vulnerable to political manipulation. This past July the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill to slap sanctions on companies and individuals involved in building Nord Stream 2. This complements a companion bill passed a month earlier by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The rationale for the sanctions (beyond U.S. retribution for Russian meddling in the U.S. elections): European energy security concerns and protecting Ukraine’s political and economic stability.
Yet surely an unspoken rationale has to be the desire of the United States to compete in the lucrative European gas market with its own abundance of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) from fracking shale gas. In eastern Europe there appears to be a preference for US sourced LNG; in the west, especially in light of the investments already make in Nord Stream 2, the wish would be to see the project through.
The Nord Stream 2 and 1 are parallel pipelines that will double the amount of natural gas delivered to Lubmin near Greifswald on the Baltic Sea. Up to now, 1000 km of this pipeline have been built. 150 km are remaining before Lubmin is reached. And so the race is on to complete the laying of the last few remaining pipe segments before the the United States actually begins to penalize companies for participating in Nord Stream 2's development.
It seems woefully late in the game to begin applying sanctions as now most of the work on building Nord Stream 2 has been completed. The US Congress has been aware of the pipeline's steady march for years and no concrete steps have been taken to stymie its progress. And even if some of the European pipeline construction companies were to heed sanctions and pull back from the Baltic Sea, the Russians have indicated they would move their own construction companies in to finish the job. By hook or by crook Nord Stream 2 will soon be a reality.