Together with Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung – Baltic Sea Pipeline Link (OPAL), which has already been in operation for approximately a year, NEL provides the link between the major natural gas reserves in Siberia and the west European gas supply network.

NEL picks up the natural gas arriving through Nord Stream in Lubmin near Greifswald in Germany, and transports it through Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Lower Saxony to the network connection point at Rehden, from where the natural gas can either be transported onwards to German and West European customers or be fed directly into West Europe’s largest gas storage facility.

The 56 inch diameter, 100 bar operating pressure, NEL is approximately 440 km long and will transport up to 20 bcm/a of natural gas. That is equivalent to around a fifth of annual consumption in Germany.

While the pipeline was completed in record time in many sections, it was necessary to adjust the route of a 40 km long section south of Hamburg in the Winsen and Stelle areas. A new planned pipeline route, the so-called southern alternative, is currently undergoing the required authorisation process, and this section is expected to be completed in the Autumn of 2013. Once it has been completed, the full transport capacity will be available.

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However, in order to take over gas quantities arriving through the second Nord Stream pipeline on time, as a temporary measure the section which has not yet been completed will be bypassed via existing pipeline systems from the network connection point in Sülstorf (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) to Achim near Bremen in Lower Saxony. This means NEL can already make a contribution to further enhancing supply security with partial capacities of about 20 per cent.

The newly founded NEL Gastransport GmbH will take over network operations for the ownership share of the W & G Group (51 per cent) from 1 November 2012. The Dutch group Gasunie (20 per cent), the Belgian group Fluxys (19 per cent), and E.ON Ruhrgas AG (10 per cent) also hold shares in NEL.