© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Workers are seen at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, near the town of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia, June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov//File Photo
By Christoph Steitz and Patricia Weiss
FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Wintershall Dea, one of the co-funders of Gazprom (MCX:GAZP)’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, on Thursday said a cancellation of the project on political grounds would enable its operator to lodge compensation claims.
The group’s remarks come as Moscow launched an invasion of Ukraine only days after Germany pulled the plug on certifying the pipeline in a first wave of sanctions on Russia.
“Should the commissioning of Nord Stream 2 be prevented by political intervention, we assume that the project company will be able to enforce compensation claims,” the company said in its annual report, referring to pipeline operator Nord Stream 2 AG.
“Currently, Wintershall Dea sees no reasonable scenario in which there will be political intervention without compensation,” said the company, which is co-owned by BASF and Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s LetterOne investor group.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier this week revoked a security assessment by the country’s Economy Ministry, saying a new one was needed in light of current events and effectively suspending the pipeline for the foreseeable future.
Wintershall Dea said that even if the certification process by the German regulator was delayed it expected Nord Stream 2 to fulfil its contractual obligations towards its financial investors, without elaborating.
“I appreciate your understanding that today is not a day to discuss hypotheticals and unknowns,” Wintershall Dea finance chief Paul Smith told analysts on Thursday after presenting the company’s full-year results.
He said instead of a questions-and-answers session that is typical for this sort of investor call, the group would set up individual calls in the coming weeks “as and when there is some greater clarity around the events which are unfolding as we speak and we can deal with facts, rather than speculation”.
Wintershall Dea, which along with Uniper, Shell (LON:RDSa), Engie and OMV is one of the financial backers of the pipeline, previously said its loan payments to Nord Stream 2 AG amounted to 730 million euros ($821 million).
Uniper, whose shares hit a 14-month low on Thursday, a day earlier said it was assessing whether the pipeline’s suspension would trigger impairments on its 1 billion euro exposure to the project.
($1 = 0.8895 euros)
Wintershall Dea: political suspension of Nord Stream 2 would enable claims
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