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SEPTEMBER 2020

Nord Stream 2 Requests Permission To Use Different Type Of Pipe-Laying Vessel To Complete Construction

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Nord Stream 2 Requests Permission To Use Different Type Of Pipe-Laying Vessel To Complete Construction

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The Nord Stream 2 has requested a permit allowing it to use a new kind of pipe-laying vessels with anchors to complete the final roughly 120-kilometre stretch of pipeline in Danish waters, Denmark’s energy agency (DEA) said on June 16th.

These pipelayers using an anchor (rather than a dynamic positioning system) were considered during the environmental impact assessment process, but were not included in the permit issued earlier in October 2019, the agency said in a comment.

Work on the project stopped in December as pipe-laying firm Swiss-Dutch Allseas suspended work due to U.S. sanctions targeting companies providing vessels laying Nord Stream 2 pipes.

A similar technology was successfully applied during the construction of the Danish section of the already operating Nord Stream-1 gas pipeline, as well as during the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline section in German waters, the project operator commented.

The DEA did not say how the work would proceed in the face of a new risk of sanctions but its decision would be “purely administrative” and in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Sanctions simply remained unmentioned.

Neither DEA nor the Nord Stream 2 named the vessel or the vessels which may finish the job.

The participants in the Nord Stream-2 project, in addition to Gazprom, are European companies Uniper, Wintershall-Dea, Royal Dutch Shell, OMV and Engie.

Now, an interesting question arises, the Akademik Cherskiy pipe-laying vessel is in the Baltic Sea, which is equipped with a dynamic positioning system. Why is it then needed to request permission to use a pipe-laying vessel with anchors such as the “Fortuna” for example?

One version is that the welding equipment on the Akademik Cherskiy is not suitable to lay the final stretch of the pipeline.

Initially, the ship was planned to be used according to the Chinese contract for laying pipes of smaller diameter. Cherskiy was equipped for laying pipes up to 32 inches in diameter, while the Nord Stream 2 pipeline required 48 inches in diameter.

The Akademik Cherskiy pipe-laying vessel, in a hurry, bypassed Singapore, where it had previously been converted to the Chinese project, went to the construction area of ​​the “Nord Stream-2”, hoping to be re-equipped at the construction site. But this appears to not be happening.

Under the conditions of sanctions, none of the European ground services is taking the order, and Russian companies do not have the appropriate equipment.

As a result, and if all this is true, Gazprom has only two options of solving the problem.

  1. Sail around Africa and to Singapore and get the ship in condition fit for the project;
  2. Get permission to use an anchor pipe-laying vessel, such as the Fortuna, and for that purpose permission is being requested from Danish authorities.

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