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Has Russia launched a solution to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline?



Russian attempts to complete the long-delayed, controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the face of primarily US based opposition are continuing, with speculation that a Russian pipe-laying vessel seen on the move in the Far East will be used to complete the project.

Map showing the planned route of the Nordstream pipeline
(Image via Wiki)

The 1,230km pipeline, running beneath the Baltic Sea, will double Russia’s export capacity to Germany as a first entry point to the EU. It’s expected that up to 110 billion cubic metres could be exported through the pipeline per year.

The increase in volume is a concern to Donald Trump’s government, with the President fearing that the pipeline will make Europe more dependent on Russian gas and less reliant on shipped imports of LNG from the US. The government has threatened sanctions on European companies investing in the pipeline or committing to the purchase of Russian gas in the future. 

Swiss pipelay and subsea construction contractor Allseas halted work in December in response to the USA’s threats. However operator Gazprom has remained adamant that they will find a solution to complete the pipeline - 94% of which is said to have already been constructed. 

Rainer Seele, CEO of Austrian Oil & Gas company OMV AG summed up the situation in an interview with Bloomberg: 

“From my point of view, they will find a solution.

“My understanding is they are looking for a ship, and it’s my bet I think they will find the ship. How long it will take them and how they are going to continue the pipe-laying, I don’t know.”

The Akademik Cheriskiy pipelaying vessel has left a port on Russia's Pacific Coast. Industry experts are speculating the Gazprom is planning on using the vessel to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline
(Image via KXAN)

Last Sunday it was reported that the Russian-owned pipe-laying vessel, the Akademick Cherskiy, left its port in Nakhodka on Russia’s Pacific Coast. The vessel had been referenced by Energy Minister Alexander Novak last year as a potential option to complete the pipeline. It’s scheduled to reach Singapore on 22nd February, where many are speculating that it will be fitted out for the specific needs of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“Pipe-laying, especially in the section of shallow waters, it isn’t a super-duper technology that you need,” said Seele. 

“It’s just the question of whether or not the setup of the ship fits for the pipe-laying activities. Maybe it’s a different ship than the ship that everyone is observing. I don’t know. I have no idea.”

Gazprom has not confirmed undertaking any action yet that would circumvent US sanctions. But the company has the backing of the Russian government, and is said to be supported by the German government - with Chancellor Angela Merkal having confirmed in a meeting with Vladimir Putin that the pipeline will be implemented “no matter what”.
The project is aiming for completion by the end of the year. 

Nord Stream 2 is one of Fircroft’s Oil & Gas projects to watch in 2020

Read more about our top 10 projects here. And if you’re looking for your next job in the Oil & Gas industry, register with us today.

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Has Russia launched a solution to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline? - Time to read 3 min
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