LONDON (ICIS)--A second Russian pipelayer started laying Nord Stream 2 pipes on Tuesday, the project promoters said. The direct pipeline between Russia and Germany is 95% built with 121km left to lay in Danish and German waters.
The project was initially expected to be finished in late 2019, but US sanctions forced the Swiss and Italian pipelayers initially contracted to withdraw from the project.
Pipelay in the Danish exclusive economic zone restarted with Russian pipelayer Fortuna in the first quarter and Akademik Chersky since Tuesday, and is planned to last until the end of September, according to the Danish maritime authority .
There were around 160km of pipes left to build before pipelay resumed in Denmark, meaning Fortuna built around 39km in less than three months and in freezing conditions, as indicated by the presence of icebreakers around the construction site. Pipelay is likely to speed up with the second pipelayer.
Fortuna and Akademik Chersky can each lay around 1.5km of pipes per day under optimal weather conditions, ICIS understands. This means they could finish the last 121km in around 40 days.
The absence of icebreakers near the two pipelayers on Tuesday suggested that weather conditions improved, which is also likely to speed up the construction of the last stretch.
The head of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) energy committee Pavel Zavalny said earlier in April that the project will be completed by the summer. Germany could start receiving gas via the pipeline during the same timeframe, Zavalny was quoted in the Russian media as saying during a Russian-German parliamentary meeting.
Around the same time, Gazprom chairman of the board of directors Viktor Zubkov and Russian deputy prime minister Alexander Novak told Russian media the pipeline would be finished this year.