The pipe-laying vessel Akademik Cherskyhas arrived in the Kaliningrad region for sea and pre-operational tests.
The pipe-layer is preparing to join the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, this is evidenced by the data of the global vessel positioning system MarineTraffic.
The operator of the project, Nord Stream 2 AG, announced earlier that after the tests, the vessel will begin laying its pipe section in the exclusive economic zone of Denmark, where the Fortuna pipe-layer is already operating.
A Danish maritime authority notice confirms pipe-laying up to September in locations near Borholm Island up to the German border. Two pipe-laying vessels, Akademik Cherskiy and fellow Russian-flagged Fortuna, two construction vessels and other supply vessels will operate in the area.
About 110km of pipe-laying remains in Danish waters and about 28km in German waters, Nord Stream 2 said today. The project operator had earlier detailed that 16.5km of one string and 13.9km of the remaining string required laying in Germany. Vessel tracking software suggests the Fortuna laid about 12km on the route’s other string in the last 30 days, equal to about 400m/d.
Nord Stream 2 said before the Fortuna re-starting pipe-laying that around 120km of the Danish route remained.
Both vessels operating in Danish and German waters from May could allow construction to be completed this summer. The Fortuna requires use of anchors when laying pipes, slowing progress compared with pipe-laying vessels with dynamic positioning systems, which may include Akademik Cherskiy.
Appeals against amendments to Nord Stream 2’s German permit seek to block the use of anchored vessels in German waters in October-May. But this would not prevent works outside this period. “Everything depends on the [sea] trials,” Nord Stream 2 said.
US sanctions had pushed a number of insurers out of the project.
And a number of contractors, including independent certification body DNV GL, wound down verification activities required by permits for the project. Nord Stream 2 had contracted the Norwegian firm to “verify the safety and technical integrity” of the project and to issue a certificate of compliance upon its “satisfactory completion”, DNV GL said.
The restart of pipe-laying on both strings suggests that Nord Stream 2 has secured alternative verification and certification services consistent with DEA requirements, given on-board observation of pipe-laying has typically formed part of project operations to date.
The US State Department said that further sanctions may be imposed on Russia in March 2021, associated with the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. But penalties under the relevant legislation will not affect the project, unlike those under other laws that directly mention the pipeline.
Regardless, construction is happening, and the project is soon to be completed.
Additionally, it would be irresponsible not to complete Nord Stream 2, taking into account economic considerations, Johann Zaathoff, coordinator of the German government for intersocial cooperation with Russia, said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
“For both economic reasons and taking into account the national economy, it seems to me that it would be irresponsible not to complete this project,” Zaathoff said.
He recalled that Nord Stream 2 is 97% complete, and about 100 different private companies are participating in it.
“Nord Stream 2 is important for the gas supply to Germany and the EU, it is important for the diversification of sources. The gas pipeline is also a kind of bridge connecting Germany and Russia, as well as the European Union with the Russian gas network. These connections need to be established and maintained, not destroyed. Even at the present time,” said the coordinator.
“In addition, we are facing serious challenges in connection with the goals of climate protection on our continent and in our countries, which, in my opinion, can only be achieved jointly. I would like to see success in working together, from the German and Russian sides, in accordance with the goals of the Paris climate agreement until 2050, we would like to have the same intensive cooperation in energy as now, but based on renewable energy sources such as, for example, hydrogen,” the official said.
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