The procedure for filling the first string of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline was completed on Monday, the project’s operating company owned by Russia’s gas industry giant Gazprom announced. “In accordance with the plan and design requirements, the line is filled with so-called technical gas in a volume of approximately 177 million cubic meters, which provides a pressure level of 103 bars in the pipeline,” Nord Stream 2 AG said in a statement on Monday. This pressure is sufficient to start transporting gas in the future, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying. The gas-in procedure for the first string of the Nord Stream 2 started on October 4. Pre-commissioning steps for the second string remain underway. Gazprom had announced on September 10 the completion of the flagship energy project despite US opposition. The 1,230-km pipeline is expected to transport 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. Gazprom intends to put it into operation before this year’s end. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is approaching its operation as Moscow has repeatedly voiced its readiness to help ease the current energy crunch in Europe. In a meeting with President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak proposed prioritising the launch of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline among other options.