World newswires

CORRECTED: Disputed Nord Stream pipeline under threat: German financier

German energy company Uniper, a financier of the disputed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, warned that the multi-billion-euro project to bring gas from Russia to Europe may yet unravel as the US ramps up its threats against the plan.

In its half-year interim report, Uniper said that intensified US efforts against the project mean "the probability of a delay or even non-completion of the pipeline is increasing."

"We view the development with concern," Uniper CEO Andreas Schierenbeck said in a conference call.

If the project isn't completed, Uniper may have to write off the loan provided to Nord Stream 2 and forfeit the planned interest income, the company warned in its report published Tuesday.

However, Schierenbeck added: "We believe that the project will be completed."

Calling Nord Stream 2 a "major individual risk" is a "perfectly normal risk management," CFO Sascha Bibert said but conceded that "extreme scenarios" could not be ruled out.

Nord Stream 2, a 10 billion-euro ($11 billion) pipeline near completion beneath the Baltic Sea, is set to double Russian natural-gas shipments to Germany, Europe's largest economy.

It has long been in crosshairs of the Trump administration, which has criticised European countries for relying too much on Russian energy.

Germany, despite political differences with Russia, sees Nord Stream 2 as ensuring a more stable and cleaner source of energy as it pivots away from coal and nuclear power.

Last year, President Donald Trump signed legislation targeting contractors working on Nord Stream 2, which is being built by Russian energy giant Gazprom.

On Monday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he expressed "displeasure" to his US counterpart Mike Pompeo about Washington's threat of sanctions against a German port over the pipeline.

The port, on the island of Ruegen in north-east Germany, is in Chancellor Angela Merkel's constituency, and threats have been seen as a personal affront to the German leader.

Pompeo announced guidelines last month stipulating that German companies could suffer sanctions even for small investments in the project.

Also on Tuesday, business publication Wirtschaftswoche reported that former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had complained to Merkel over US sanctions over Nord Stream 2.

Schroeder is himself the chairman of the shareholders' committee of Swiss-based Nord Stream AG, a subsidiary of Gazprom.