Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks to media prior to his departure from the White House on November 20, 2018, in Washington, DC to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, for the Thanksgiving holiday. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 offshore natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany opposed by many European Union (EU) member states and former president Barack Obama is once again coming under intense scrutiny from the United States.

The Trump administration said Wednesday it’s still considering using sanctions to block the completion of Nord Stream 2, which is owned and operated by Nord Stream AG. This company’s majority shareholder is Russian state company, Gazprom.

“Well, we’re looking at it,” said president Donald Trump of Nord Stream 2. “People have a right to do what they want to do. I think it’s something that I’ve been looking at and I’ve been thinking about and I’m the one that brought up the pipeline problem.”

Last year, Trump said Germany might be held captive to Russian energy exports. This is a position long held by opponents to the original Nord Stream project whose first pipeline was inaugurated in November 2011. The second pipeline was inaugurated in October 2012.

Trump’s opposition of Nord Stream 2, however, isn’t based purely on geopolitical grounds. He wants Russian natural gas supplies to Europe replaced with U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas, which is plentiful in the U.S. but in short supply in Europe. U.S. LNG will have to be transported to Europe aboard specially built LNG tanker ships.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) last month filed a bill in the Senate that will impose sanctions on vessels used to build Nord Stream 2. Other Trump administration officials have hinted at imposing their own sanctions to block construction of Nord Stream 2.

President of the European Council Donald Tusk has said Nord Stream 2 is not in the EU's interests. EU officials critical of Nord Stream 2 claim the project violates the long-term declared strategy of the EU to diversify its gas supplies.

President Donald Trump stops to speak to reporters as he prepared to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Jan. 19, 2019, in Washington, DC. Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images

At 1,222 kilometers in length, the original Nord Stream is the longest sub-sea pipeline in the world and can transport 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. Nord Stream 2 will double this capacity to 110 billion cubic meters (3.9 trillion cubic feet) with the addition of two additional lines. It will run beneath the Baltic Sea.

The U.S. and many European nations have opposed Nord Stream 2 since the pipeline project was first announced in 2011 out of concern the pipeline will help Russia bypass Ukraine, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Belarus and Poland, which are the traditional transit countries.

This advantage will allow Russia to weaponize energy supplies against its neighboring countries without disrupting natural gas deliveries to Western Europe. Critics of Nord Stream have long held that Europe might become dangerously dependent on Russian natural gas and vulnerable to Russian threats to weaponize natural gas.

Russia and Germany continue to claim Nord Stream 2 is a purely economic project, however.