Bankruptcy stay for Nord Stream 2 pipeline firm extended

BERLIN (AP) — A Swiss court has granted the operating company for the never-opened Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was built to bring Russian gas to Germany but put on ice shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine, a four-month extension to its “stay of bankruptcy.”

The stay for Nord Stream 2 AG was extended from Sept. 10 through Jan. 10 by a regional court in Zug canton (state), according to a notice published Thursday in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce. The company, a subsidiary of Russia’s Gazprom, is based in Zug.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government halted the certification process for the pipeline on Feb. 22, after Russia recognized the independence of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and two days before Moscow launched its invasion. U.S. President Joe Biden President then directed his administration to impose sanctions on the operating company.

The pipeline project had long drawn resistance from Ukraine and eastern European countries, as well as bipartisan opposition in the United States.

At the beginning of March, the operating company said it had dismissed all its employees in Zug — according to local officials, up to 110 people.

In recent months, Russia has increasingly cut back deliveries to Europe through existing pipelines. Gazprom said last week that the parallel Nord Stream 1 pipeline — the main source of Russian gas sent to Germany — would remain closed, citing what it said was a need for urgent maintenance work to repair key components. The Kremlin has blamed Western sanctions for blocking such work.

Both the technical explanations and the claim about sanctions have been rejected by German officials, who say the stoppages are a political move aimed at causing uncertainty and driving up prices.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has taunted the West by raising the prospect of sending gas through Nord Stream 2, a political nonstarter for the German government and others. On Wednesday, he reiterated that Moscow stands ready to start pumping gas “as early as tomorrow” through Nord Stream 2.

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