Nord Stream pipeline links Russian gas reserves to Europe market

25 August 2011 17:04  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Major Russian gas reserves in Siberia are now linked to the European natural gas market by the connection of the first line of the Nord Stream pipeline with the OPAL pipeline in Germany, the Switzerland-headquartered Nord Stream joint venture said on Thursday.

“The pipeline system is now ready for the next complex steps of bringing the pipeline on stream, which means we will be able to commission the first of the Nord Stream twin pipelines in the fourth quarter of 2011 as planned,” said Dr Georg Nowack, Nord Stream project manager for Germany.

“The connecting pipeline OPAL, which will pick up the natural gas from Nord Stream and transport it onwards, is already complete,” said Bernd Vogel, managing director of OPAL NEL TRANSPORT, a subsidiary of the WINGAS Group which will operate the connecting pipeline. “So we are ready. The Russian natural gas can come,” he added.

The last welding seam connecting the first line of the €7.4bn ($10.7bn) Nord Stream pipeline and the €1bn OPAL pipeline was completed on the grounds of the natural gas transfer station in Lubmin, near Greifswald, where the undersea Nord Stream section reaches Germany’s Baltic Sea coast.

The OPAL – described in July by Russia’s National Energy Security Fund as a game-changer that will vastly reduce Ukraine’s ability to block Russian natural gas supplies to Western and Central Europe – is known as the “little brother” to the Nord Stream.

The largest natural gas pipeline in Western Europe, the OPAL has an annual capacity of 36bn cubic metres of gas and runs 470 kilometres (291 miles) from Lubmin, via Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg and Saxony to the Germany-Czech Republic border.

From there, the €400m Gazela Pipeline, which will connect to the OPAL in Hora Svate Kateriny in the northern Czech Republic, will distribute Nord Stream-sourced gas across Central Europe.

Nord Stream is a joint venture between Russia’s Gazprom (51%), Germany’s BASF SE/Wintershall Holding GmbH (15.5%) and E.ON Ruhrgas (15.5%), Dutch energy group Gasunie (9%) and France’s GDF SUEZ (9%). WINGAS Group is a joint venture between Gazprom and Wintershall, a subsidiary of BASF.

($1 = €0.69)

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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