Fortuna, the company behind the controversial Nord Stream 2 project, said on Saturday it is continuing construction of the German-Russian Baltic Sea gas pipeline, laying pipes south of the Danish island of Bornholm.
The company said that the work is proceeding in line with the permits that have been issued.
The pipeline-laying vessel started work in the Danish Exclusive Economic Zone on Jan. 24 and, after testing and preparation, has begun construction, it said.
The nearly-complete Nord Stream 2 is set to double the amount of Russian natural gas carried to Germany via the Baltic Sea, with the aim of providing the country with affordable energy as it phases out coal and nuclear energy.
However, the U.S. has long argued that the pipeline will increase Europe’s energy dependence on Russia, an argument repeated by the Biden administration in recent days.
The U.S. has sanctioned companies involved in the project’s construction but German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to support the pipeline.
The Fortuna completed a 2.6-kilometre stretch of pipeline in December in the German exclusive economic zone (EEZ) following an 18-month construction pause.
This brings the combined length of the twin pipelines laid on the sea bed to over 2,300 kilometres, with around 150 kilometres remaining, around 120 kilometres of which are in Danish waters and 30 of which in German waters.
Germany’s Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) issued a permit in mid-January to allow construction to continue in German waters after a previous permit ran out.
However, the permit was suspended following objections from environmental agencies.
Calls are also growing louder for Germany to abandon the project in light of Russia’s treatment of jailed dissident, Alexei Navalny and his supporters.
The pipeline would also bypass Ukraine, depriving Russia’s neighbour and geopolitical competitor of the transit fees it receives for transporting Russian gas to the rest of Europe.
Meanwhile, proponents of the pipeline have accused Washington of merely being interested in selling its own liquid natural gas to Europe.