Workers are seen at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, near the town of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia, June 5, 2019.
Workers are seen at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, near the town of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia, June 5, 2019. Reuters / Anton Vaganov

Wintershall Dea, one of the co-funders of Gazprom's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, on Thursday said cancelling the project on political grounds would enable its operator to lodge compensation claims.

The group's remarks come as Moscow launched an invasion of Ukraine only days after Germany pulled the plug on certifying the pipeline in a first wave of sanctions on Russia, where Wintershall Dea has been active for more than three decades.

The Germany-based oil and gas firm, which is co-owned by BASF and Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's LetterOne investor group, on Thursday cancelled its annual press conference in light of current events.

"The latest military escalation also shakes the economic cooperation between Russia and Europe that has been built up over decades and will have far-reaching consequences," CEO Mario Mehren said in a statement.

"To what extent cannot yet be foreseen."

Wintershall Dea along with Uniper, Shell, Engie and OMV <OMVV,VI> is one of the financial backers of Nord Stream 2.

It has previously said its loan payments to the project amounted to 730 million euros ($821 million).

Uniper, whose shares hit a 14-month low on Thursday, a day earlier said it was assessing whether the pipeline's suspension would trigger impairments on its 1 billion euro exposure to the project.

"Should the commissioning of Nord Stream 2 be prevented by political intervention, we assume that the project company will be able to enforce compensation claims," the company said in its annual report, referring to pipeline operator Nord Stream 2 AG.

"Currently, Wintershall Dea sees no reasonable scenario in which there will be political intervention without compensation," it added.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier this week revoked a security assessment by the country's Economy Ministry, saying a new one was needed in light of current events and effectively suspending the pipeline for the foreseeable future.

Wintershall Dea said that even if the certification process by the German regulator was delayed it expected Nord Stream 2 to fulfil its contractual obligations towards its financial investors, without elaborating.

"I appreciate your understanding that today is not a day to discuss hypotheticals and unknowns," Wintershall Dea finance chief Paul Smith told analysts on Thursday after presenting the company's full-year results.

He said instead of a questions-and-answers session that is typical for this sort of investor call, the group would set up individual calls in the coming weeks "as and when there is some greater clarity around the events which are unfolding as we speak and we can deal with facts, rather than speculation".

($1 = 0.8895 euros)