Nord Stream 2 gas pipelay in Denmark could restart in July

Author: Diane Pallardy

2020/06/17

LONDON (ICIS)--The Danish Energy Agency expects to be able to make a decision in the next four weeks on whether to allow anchor vessels to restart work on the Russian pipeline Nord Stream 2.

If the agency approves the use of these vessels, pipelay in Denmark could resume from mid-July, provided there is no delay to observe and the yet-to-be-confirmed pipe-laying vessel is ready.

Earlier this week , the agency received a request from the project developers to allow the use of vessels in the Danish exclusive economic zone. The Danish construction permit granted last October is for pipe-laying vessels with dynamic positioning (without anchor). These vessels reduce the risk of contact with unexploded ordinances left at the bottom of the Baltic Sea after World War II.

The anchor pipelayer Castoro Sei built 70% of Nord Stream, the existing twin of Nord Stream 2. The two pipelines follow the same route for the most part, except in Danish waters where Nord Stream 2 goes more southeast of the Bornholm Island.

This precedent indicates that the Russian anchor pipelayer Fortuna could finish the Danish section of Nord Stream 2. The vessel already laid some Nord Stream 2 pipes in Russian waters. It is now located in the German port of Mukran, a key logistics hub for the coating and storage of up to 90,000 pipes for Nord Stream 2. The project is made of 200,000 pipes, meaning almost half of them go through Mukran.

Another Russian pipelayer is also stationed at this port, the Akademik Chersky, and it has dynamic positioning.

However, both vessels are slower than the pipelayers initially contracted to build Nord Stream 2 but which US sanctions forced out of the project in December.

The Akademik Chersky lays pipes at a speed that is approximately three times slower, ICIS understands.

The Pioneering Spirit had a pipelay speed of up to 5km/day, and the Solitaire 4km/day and could rise over 9km/day. This would mean the Akademik Chersky has a pipelay speed of approximately 1.5km/day. There are around 160km left to build for the project to be completed, so the Akademik Chersky could potentially build it in around three-and-a-half months.

As for the Fortuna’s pipelay speed, MRTS had not replied to ICIS by publishing time.

Russian newspaper Kommersant said its pipelay speed averages 1.5km/day . If both vessels were sent to finish the Danish section it could take less than three-and-a-half months to complete the project.

Nord Stream 2 will double Russia’s direct export capacity to Germany as a first EU entry point to 110 billion cubic meters/year.

Earlier this month , several US senators proposed additional sanctions against the project.