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Nord Stream 2 says first line is filled with gas

The controversial pipeline is still awaiting clearance to start sales to Europe, but the gas is ready for export. It will double Moscow's annual gas export capacity in the Baltic to 110 billion cubic meters.

The Russian ship Fortuna on the Baltic Sea

Approval to begin commercial sales could still take months

The operator of the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline said Monday the first of the project's two lines has been filled with technical gas.

The pipeline is, however, still awaiting clearance to start sales to Europe.

"This pressure is sufficient to start gas transportation in future," its Swiss-based operator said in a statement.

Watch video 04:24

German trans-Atlantic coordinator: Nord Stream 2 deal a 'good sign'

Nord Stream 2, which is funded by energy giant Gazprom and its European partners, is expected to gain certification from a German regulator to begin commercial sales of natural gas, although the approval process could take several months.

About 177 million cubic meters of technical gas, needed to maintain pressure in the pipeline for future gas sales, has been pumped into the pipeline.

The pipeline project has faced resistance from the United States, which says the pipeline will increase Europe's reliance on Russian energy. Russia has said that Nord Stream 2, however, could provide relief to the strained European gas market. The pipeline will double Moscow's annual gas export capacity in the Baltic to 110 billion cubic meters.

Responding to accusations from the International Energy Agency, the Kremlin has said that it has not played a role in Europe's surging gas prices.

lc/rt (Reuters, AFP)