The planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany raises U.S. intelligence and military concerns since it would allow Moscow to place new listening and monitoring technology in the Baltic Sea, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.
Sandra Oudkirk, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy, said in Berlin she would meet German officials to voice Washington's concerns about the subsea project.
A consortium of western companies and Russia's Gazprom said this week it was starting preparatory work off Germany's Baltic coast.
Oudkirk told reporters the U.S. Congress had given the president new authority to impose sanctions against a variety of Russian pipeline projects.
Any companies involved were in "an elevated position of sanctions risk", she said. However, she added that Washington was focused on using diplomatic means to halt Nord Stream 2, one of several Russian projects to export gas to western Europe via routes avoiding Ukraine, with which Moscow is involved in a series of disputes.
A consortium of western companies and Russia's Gazprom that is due to build the controversial subsea Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany said on Tuesday it was starting preparatory work in the Greifswald bay off Germany's Baltic coast.
"Five dredgers are now working on the trench for the two pipeline strings," the consortium, based in Switzerland's Zug, said in a press release. Nord Stream 2 will consist of two pipelines running in parallel.
"Preparatory works are in accordance with the Stralsund mining authority's planning approval," it said. The regulatory authority granted the consortium a permit in January to build the pipeline in German territorial waters.
Poland's anti-monopoly office said last week it had launched proceedings against Gazprom and the five European firms financing Nord Stream 2 over a potential breach of anti-monopoly laws.
Poland sees the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would double Russia's gas export capacity via the Baltic Sea, as a threat to Europe's energy security and argues it will strengthen Gazprom's already dominant position in the market.