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Progress on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Progress on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Work has begun on the 1,200 km Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is being constructed to meet the European Union’s demand for natural gas supply.

Closely following the route of the existing Nord Stream pipeline, which was completed in 2012, Nord Stream 2 will transport gas from the coast of Russia to Greifswald on Germany’s northern coast, via the Baltic Sea.

The Nord Stream 2 project will be a vital addition to Europe’s natural gas pipeline systems, with domestic gas production expected to be reduced by up to 50 per cent in the next 20 years. As a result, the European Union (EU) will need to import more gas, which requires the construction of new pipelines to transport resources from external locations.

The second Nord Stream twin pipelines will enhance security in the energy markets, including natural gas supply routes, instead of replacing them. Russia’s proximity to mainland Europe, it’s extensive gas reserves, and reliable supply, makes it the best option for the source of a new gas pipelines.

In the future, once the gas has arrived in the European market, it will be transported throughout the EU’s internal energy market, topping-up declining supplies in the northwest. It will also supplement the Southern Corridor, the central and southern parts of the Continent, as well as stimulating additional connections and reverse flows in the east.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be €8 billion (US$8.75 billion), €4 billion (US$4.37 billion) of which has already been invested.

Pipe production in the Europipe pipe mill. © Nord Stream 2 / Wolfram Scheible.

Concrete weighting

The twin pipelines will be constructed from approximately 200,000 individual pipe sections, each 12 m long. Contractor Wasco has already started applying concrete weight coating to approximately 2,400 km of pipe at its base in Kotka, Finland.

More than half of the 48 inch diameter pipe required for the project will be coated at Wasco’s plant in the Port of HaminaKotka, which is expected to be completed in late 2018. Concrete weight coating increases the stability of the pipes on the seabed, as it doubles their weight to 24 t and protects them from external damage during storage, transportation, and installation as they are lowered on to the seabed.

German pipe manufacturer Europipe will supply 90,000 of the pipes required to cross the Baltic Sea, with the balance being supplied from elsewhere. Once the pipe has been laid on the seabed, the pipeline will undergo further inspection and testing before it can be independently verified and put into service. The pipes will have a constant internal diameter of 1,153 mm and a wall thicknesses of up to 41 mm. The pipes will receive a high gloss lining to reduce friction as the gas flows through the system, while an external coating will also be applied to prevent corrosion.

First pipes for Nord Stream 2 arrive in Muhran. © Nord Stream 2 / Axel Schmidt.

Pipelaying

Once the pipes have been produced, coated, and tested onshore, they will be shipped to the pipelaying vessel in the Baltic Sea. At that point, each pipe section will be welded together, scanned to assess their structural integrity, and then gradually lowered into the sea in a continuous string, at a rate of up to 3 km per day.

In April 2017, Allseas was awarded the contract for the offshore pipelaying in the Baltic Sea, following an international tendering process. It will commence work laying the pipe for both pipelines in 2018 and 2019, using three dynamically positioned pipelay vessels Pioneering Spirit, Solitaire, and Audacia.

The vessels are able to carry out precise manoeuvring without anchors, which is designed to provide an additional level of environmental protection and safety in the sea. The tender process for other construction contracts is still ongoing, including the near-shore pipelay tenders for Russia and Germany.

First pipes for Nord Stream 2 being transported. © Nord Stream 2 / Axel Schmidt.

Project management

Nord Stream 2 AG, based in Zug, Switzerland, is the company implementing the project. It is composed of five shareholders: PAO Gazprom (51 per cent), Wintershall Holding GmbH (15.5 per cent), PEG Infrastruktur AG (15.5 per cent), N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie (9 per cent), and ENGIE (9 per cent).

The management team includes experts from over 20 countries around, specialising in engineering, environmental monitoring, construction, and communications. It consists of industry professionals with extensive international experience in delivering major energy and infrastructure projects, from some of the world’s most recognised energy companies, including the first Nord Stream pipelines.

Safety and environmental protection have been at the forefront during the planning and construction stages of the pipelines. Nord Stream 2 will continue to collaborate with the world’s leading suppliers to plan the pipelines, assess environmental impacts, develop the pipes, and lay them in the Baltic Sea.

Independent certification body DNV GL will examine key steps in the process, as well as the completed pipelines, to ensure its technical integrity and to oversee Nord Stream 2’s commitment to the highest standards of safety and sustainability.

The construction of the pipelines is progressing on schedule, with the twin pipelines planned for completion by the end of 2019.

Maintaining Nord Stream 1

In May, MMT Sweden was awarded a three-year contract by Nord Stream AG to inspect both lines of the original Nord Stream Pipeline. The external inspection will be completed by a JV between MMT and Reach Subsea.

The scope of work includes the visual and instrumental inspection of the pipelines with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) over the entire length of the route. The trenched sections and cable crossings of the pipeline will also be inspected and the majority of the survey will be conducted aboard the Stril Explorer vessel.

The surveys, which will take place over 150 days in 2017, will acquire data on the condition of both pipeline strings and the associated installations. This information will then be used in the continued assessment of the pipelines’ integrity, and will complement the data generated from earlier inspections.

Speaking on the inspection works, Nord Stream AG’s Managing Director Alexey Zagorovskiy said, “Reliability, safety and professional management are important for us as a company, and also in terms of choosing a supplier. We hope that our cooperation with MMT will be successful and mutually beneficial.”

This article was featured in the June edition of Pipelines International. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet, or mobile device, click here.

If you have a project you would like featured in Pipelines International contact Assistant Editor Nick Lovering at nlovering@gs-press.com.au

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