The first string of Nord Stream 2 has finished winding

Gazprom has completed the laying of the first string of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Vladimir Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). According to him, the laying of the second string will be completed within two months. Thus, in the near future, work should begin on hydraulic testing of the pipe, followed by its filling with gas. But it is not yet clear whether Nord Stream 2, given the US sanctions against the project, will be able to quickly go through the certification procedure – it is necessary in order to put the gas pipeline into operation.

Gazprom has completed laying the first string of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the SPIEF. “I am glad to announce that today, two and a half hours ago, the laying of the first string of the Nord Stream gas pipeline was successfully completed,” he said. Now it remains for Russia to lay the second string of the export gas pipeline. A day earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak reported that about 100 km of the pipe remained to be completed.

“The whole line work, including the offshore section, is over. It remains – from the German side the pipe came up, from the Russian side – they need to be lifted and welded, that’s all, but the laying itself is completed, ”the president added, referring to the first string.

As for the second line, according to Vladimir Putin, he hopes that its installation will be completed within 1.5-2 months.

In addition, this week the readiness of the Russian linear part of the gas pipeline system to the Slavyanskaya compressor station, the starting point of Nord Stream 2, was ensured. “Gas has been supplied to Slavyanskaya. Thus, Gazprom is ready to fill Nord Stream 2 with gas, ”summed up Vladimir Putin.

In standard practice, pressure testing, filling a pipe with nitrogen and then with natural gas, can take approximately two months.

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Note that in order for the German regulator to give permission to operate the gas pipeline, it needs to be certified. In 2020, the US Congress included new sanctions against the project in the defense budget. The sanctions were expanded, including for the provision of certification services for the project, because of this, the Norwegian certification company Det Norske Veritas – Germanischer Lloyd (DNV GL) left the project. Who will be able to replace her is not yet known.

At the same time, Vladimir Putin stressed that Gazprom “is ready for gas supplies via Nord Stream-2, the timing will depend on the German regulator.”

How US sanctions hit Nord Stream 2 tangentially

The President also separately noted that the current tariffs for gas transit through the territory of Ukraine are overstated, stressing that “we have no obligation to feed everyone.” He recalled that under the existing transit contract, Gazprom will pump 40 billion cubic meters a year through Ukraine. Vladimir Putin also believes that Russian gas supplies to Europe will grow and may increase by 50 billion cubic meters per year. Thus, he made it clear that he considers it possible to maintain the current volumes of transit through Ukraine even with the full launch of Nord Stream-2. Recall that the Ukrainian authorities, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, believe that after the introduction of Nord Stream 2 and the expiration of the current transit contract, it will not renew it, leaving Ukraine without $ 3 billion a year in transit payments.

The export gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters has been laid from the Slavyanskaya compressor station in the Kingisepp District of the Leningrad Region to the German coast. Gazprom used the Russian pipelayers Akademik Chersky and Fortuna to complete the pipeline, because its Swiss contractor Allseas stopped work at the end of 2019 due to the US sanctions.

Tatiana Dyatel, St. Petersburg