Construction on the long-awaited Nord Stream pipeline is under way. Dr. Rainer Seele, chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Wintershall, announced the construction start of one of Europe’s biggest-ever energy projects to bring natural gas directly from Russia to Germany and Western Europe on April 9.
Nord Stream will be 1,220 km and consist of two parallel lines. The first one, with a transmission capacity of around 27.5 Bcm/a, is due for completion in 2011. A second parallel line is due to be completed in 2012, doubling annual capacity to around 55 Bcm/a.
Added to this is more than 900 kms of connecting pipeline to the 470-km Wingas Opal pipeline (Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungs-Leitung – Baltic Sea Pipeline Link) being built in Germany.
Seele said, “This is an absolute precedent. At the end of 2011, the rich Siberian natural gas fields will be connected directly with the markets and the people of Western Europe for the first time – and not via transit countries as it used to be.
“With today’s construction start, approximately 200,000 individual pipes will be welded together, and laid under water through the Baltic Sea from Vyborg in Russia to close to Greifswald on the German coast.”
The total investment in Nord Stream amounts to EUR 7.4 billion. Partners in the Nord Stream AG consortium include Gazprom, Germany’s E.ON and BASF/Wintershall and the Dutch company Gasunie.
Nord Stream AG awarded Italy’s Snamprogetti a contract for detailed technical design engineering while Saipem was contracted to construct the subsea pipeline. Saipem SpA’s pipelay vessel Castoro 6 is scheduled to lay the first section of the Nord Stream Pipeline. When fully completed, the Nord Stream Pipeline will transport 55 Bcm of natural gas, supplying the energy needs of 26 million European households.
As to the Wingas Opal pipeline being built in Germany, construction has been divided into several spared and awarded to: PPS Pipeline Systems, 72 km; Ghizzoni S.p.A., 125 km; Bonatti S.p.A., 140 km; Max Streicher, 70 km; and Max Streicher/Sicim S.p.A., 70 km. As many as 2,500 workers will work on the pipeline until its commissioning in October 2011.
The pipeline will run from the Baltic Sea coast through Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg and Saxony to the Czech Republic. In addition to the Opal pipeline, construction of the NEL (Norddeutsche Erdgasleitung – North German Gas Link) is planned: the NEL will run from where the Nord Stream pipeline comes on land and passes by Schwerin and Hamburg before reaching the natural gas storage facility in Rehden in Lower Saxony. Rural regions in the North and East of Germany will also receive fast Internet connections with the construction of the two pipelines as fiber-optic cables will be laid in the trench beside the natural gas pipelines.
Overall more than $2 billion are earmarked for investment in the expansion of the German natural gas infrastructure as part of the continuation of Nord Stream. Opal Nel Transport GmbH, part of the Wingas Group, will serve as operator for the Opal. Plans call for the Opal to be connected to the Wingas transport gas pipeline network.