On September 10th, energy giant Gazprom announced that construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was completed.

“Chairman of the Management Committee Alexei Miller said that this morning at 8.45 Moscow time (05:45 GMT) construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was fully completed,” Gazprom wrote on messaging app Telegram.

Earlier it was reported that it is planned to start operation by the end of the year.

The pipeline was laid from Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The capacity of its two lines is 55 billion cubic meters per year. The implementation took three years.

Gazprom started the construction of the 1,200-km long pipeline from Russia to Germany five years ago. The progress of the $11 billion project was halted in the end of 2019 when the then U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions against it.

The construction restarted around a year later with the engagement of Russia’s own vessels.

The route, jointly with the existing Nord Stream pipeline, will double the annual export capacity to 110 billion cubic metres, around the half of Russia’s total gas exports to Europe a year.

The project has drawn criticism from the United States and Ukraine among others. Russia said on Thursday pumping commercial gas supplies via Nord Stream 2 would not start until a German regulator gives the green light.

Ukraine actively opposed it, because it fears losing transit revenues, as well as the United States, which is interested in promoting its LNG to Europe. Germany and Austria rendered active support.

Washington has several times imposed sanctions against companies involved in the construction. As a result, Russia had to finish building the pipeline without foreign partners.

The dispute over the updated EU gas directive, which entered into force on May 23, 2019, remains unresolved. Its regulations state that the pipe laid after the specified date must either be partially filled by an alternative supplier, or its section in the EU must be owned by a third-party company. The regulator and the court in Germany decided not to remove the project from the document.

Russia is not satisfied with this. According to Moscow, it is necessary to rely not on technical arguments, but on economic ones: by the time the directive was updated, billions of dollars in investments had been made in the project, taking into account the previous legal situation.