Russia Says Contentious Gas Pipeline a Few Miles From Completion
(Bloomberg) -- A controversial Russian gas pipeline is still a few miles away from being completed, with construction set to end within the next month.
The Nord Stream 2 link to Germany is almost done, with just 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) of pipes still to be laid, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a conference in Moscow. Depending on how many vessels are used, the build could take about 10 to 30 days, according to Bloomberg calculation.
The completion of Nord Stream 2 will be a milestone for German-Russian ties after opposition from key allies such as the U.S. caused years of delays. It will also bring crucial supplies to Europe, which is facing a gas supply crunch after a bitter winter left the continent’s storage facilities depleted.
“We can consider it’s nearing completion,” Putin said on Friday following what’s likely to be his last meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before she steps down. “15 kilometers remain to be laid under the sea.”
Initially expected to come online in 2019, Nord Stream 2 suffered repeated delays, with the U.S. threatening to penalize companies involved in building it. Prospects for completion changed after President Joe Biden decided to waive some sanctions in May, and then struck a deal with Germany that warned of retaliation if Russia tried to use energy as a weapon against neighbor Ukraine.
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The Fortuna vessel -- deployed to complete the construction of the pipeline -- has an average speed of some 0.4 kilometers per day, depending on the weather conditions. That means it would take about 30 days for the pipeline to be finished.
But the pace could triple if the project operator deploys the more advanced Akademik Cherskiy vessel, which earlier this year helped build the Danish section of the gas link. The vessel is currently located in the Baltic Sea, just kilometers away from the Fortuna, according to MarineTraffic data.
European gas traders have been on edge, watching for any news of new supplies to alleviate a winter a gas crunch. Futures went haywire earlier this week after the German grid operator posted erroneous data on its website suggesting gas flows via Nord Stream 2. Prices also tumbled Thursday after Gazprom PJSC said the pipeline can ship 5.6 billion cubic meters of the fuel in 2021.
The Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline will be completed this summer, Matthias Warnig, CEO of Nord Stream 2 AG, told Handelsblatt July 11. The project operator didn’t respond to a request for comment on how long it would take to build the remaining 15 kilometers.
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