In an interview, Allseas CEO Edward Heerema said stopping Nordstream 2 was first and foremost damaging to the company’s sense of honour. ‘It’s a disappointment, we really wanted to take credit for it,’ he says.
Allseas withdrew from the project following newly imposed sanctions from US President Donald Trump, which bans companies working on the Nordstream 2 pipeline from doing business in and with the US if they would not cease their involvement.
‘The turn of events was not entirely unexpected as this decision had been hanging over our head for over a year. But with only two weeks more to go, it looked like we could finish it,’ the normally media-shy CEO tells Dutch business radio BNR.
Heerema says there is no way Allseas could have finished the last 140 kilometres of the 2400 kilometre long pipeline between Russia and Germany without being affected by the new sanctions. ‘We were warned by the US that we had to leave immediately, our vessels were not allowed to stay at the construction site,’ he explains.
Allseas did not want to risk any sanctions, as the Gulf of Mexico is an important market for the company. As a result, Allseas stopped the project with the destination port practically in sight.
Nordstream 2 is a 2400-kilometre gas pipeline running from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine, which currently plays a pivotal role in Russian gas exports to Europe.
The Trump administration fears that Nordstream 2 will make Europe too dependent on Russian gas. Russia and Germany, however, suspect President Trump is merely trying to protect its own economic interests as the US sits on a vast amount of shale gas, which it would love to export to Europe.
Germany’s finance minister Olaf Scholz said Berlin ‘firmly rejects’ the US sanctions on firms laying the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. ‘Such sanctions are a serious interference in the internal affairs of Germany and Europe and their sovereignty,’ Scholz told German newsagency ARD.
Many experts, however, feel that the American sanctions come too late as the pipeline is almost finished. Heerema acknowledges that Russia may be able to finish the last 140 kilometres by itself. ‘They have vessels that could do it, but it will take a lot longer than when we would do it,’ the owner of the world’s largest heavy-lift vessel, Pioneering Spirit, says.
Good Year for Allseas
Financially, Allseas has not been hurt too bad by the new sanctions, Heerema says. ‘There’s only five per cent of the work left to be done and we’ve been paid for all the work we did complete. We’ve told Russia up front that we would have to stop the project if the US would impose sanctions and Russia has been very understanding and respectful about that.’
Asked if he never felt pressure from working on a controversial project like Nordstream 2, Heerema comments: ‘As Allseas, we accept all work that is lawful. We have never been concerned about political correctness.’
Because of Nordstream 2 and a number of large decommissioning projects, 2019 has been a good year for Allseas, Heerema says, although he refuses to go into specifics. In comparison, 2020 will be ‘a lesser year as there are no large pipeline projects and decommissioning projects planned,’ Heerema concluded.
Picture: Pioneering Spirit in the Port of Rotterdam (by Frans Berkelaar).
This article first appeared on Project Cargo Journal, a sister publication of SWZ|Maritime.