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Nord Stream 2 Reaches Competition

Friday, October 8, 2021

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Pipeline operator Nord Stream 2 AG was recently reported to be filling the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, one month after its announced completion.

“The gas-in procedure for the first string of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has started,” said the Switzerland-based company, which is owned by a subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom, in a statement.

“This string will be gradually filled to build the required inventory and pressure as a prerequisite for the later technical tests.”

Pipeline Construction

The construction for Gazprom’s pipeline began in the Bay of Greifswald, located on Germany's Baltic Sea coast in May 2018. The project was launched to allow Moscow to route gas exports around Ukraine.

Composed of two welded conduits, each with an inside diameter of 1.2 meters (4 feet), the pipeline stretches from northwestern Siberia 1,230 kilometers (764 miles) across the Baltic seabed through Swedish, Finnish and Danish waters, to northeastern Germany.

Since the establishment of Nord Stream 1 in 2011, the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine has declined. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also highlighted the fact that Germany’s support for the pipeline was in question, as the project could not go forward unless there were guarantees for Ukraine in terms of overland gas transit.

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. has long opposed the pipeline, given the needs of Ukraine and the energy interdependence of Europe. A U.S. official also pointed out concerns that the pipeline would allow Russia to install monitoring technology in the Baltic Sea (though Bloomberg previously noted that this would be unlikely due to the fact Nord Stream 2 runs parallel to its predecessor; Nord Stream 1 could be used for the same purpose).

In January 2019, construction progress was reported, with the first line slated to be ready by November, and the second line slated to be ready for operation by December. In March, Germany and France reached an amended agreement regarding the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and in June, President Donald J. Trump announced his consideration of using sanctions to block the controversial pipeline.

In October, a construction permit was granted for the project, approving the pipeline’s route through the Danish Exclusive Economic Zone southeast of Bornholm, which covers a 147-kilometer-long section of the route. Prep work was slated to follow soon after, which included the installation of concrete mattresses and rock placement to support existing infrastructure.

At the time of the permit announcement, it was reported that 2,100 kilometers of pipeline had been put in place, covering Russian, Finnish and Swedish waters, as well as a good portion of Germany. The Danish section was to be built with pipes stored in Mukran, located on the German island of Rügen. Construction on facilities in Russia and Germany was also nearly complete.

Completion and Testing

In early September, officials announced that work had completed on the $11 billion Nord Storm 2 pipeline, roughly a year after the initial timeline. Although the pipeline was still opposed by the U.S., under the new administration of President Joe Biden, it was reported that the country opted not to punish the German company for overseeing the project.

This agreement had been reached back in July, when the U.S. and Germany agreed to allow Nord Storm 2’s completion without the imposition of U.S. sanctions on German entities. It was also agreed that the two countries would support Ukraine and Poland by funding alternative energy and development projects.

Since reaching completion, however, new sanctions against Russian companies and ships were announced.

Now, the pipeline is currently in the process of being filled for testing. Although the Danish Energy Agency recently said that it had accepted that pipeline B could be put into operation, some conditions remained before pipeline A could start operations.

One such condition is the approval from Germany’s regulator to transport gas in Germany.

Once in operation, the pipeline is projected to double Russia’s existing gas pipeline capacity across the Baltic Sea to 110 billion cubic meters (piping 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Europe), equating to more than a half of Russia's total pipeline gas supplies to Europe.

Germany, Europe's top economy, imports around 40% of its gas from Russia, and Berlin believes the pipeline has a role to play in the country's transition away from coal and nuclear energy.

The new pipeline arrives at a time of falling domestic production. The energy regulator has four months to complete certifications prior to launching full operations.

   

Tagged categories: Completed projects; EU; Europe; Government; Government contracts; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Oil and Gas; Pipeline; Pipelines; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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