Gazprom Stays Mum on Pipelaying Vessel for Nord Stream 2

(P&GJ) — The movement of a Russian pipelaying vessel from a port on the country’s east coast has prompted reports it may be en route to the Baltic Sea to resume construction of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, but its developers remained unwilling to discuss it Wednesday.

The Allseas Pioneering Spirit before Nord Stream 2 pipelaying operations were suspended in late December. (photo: Gazprom)

The Akademik Cherskiy left the port where it had been stationed in Nakhodka on Russia’s Pacific coast on Sunday, according to a Bloomberg report, “feeding speculation that Gazprom PJSC will work out a way to circumvent U.S. sanctions” and complete the project linking Russia and Germany.

“We are aware of speculation regarding pipelay capacities, which we do not comment on,” Nord Stream 2 spokesperson Jens Mueller said in an email response to Pipeline & Gas Journal.  “We will inform about our plans in due time.”

The Swiss company Allseas Group halted work on the pipeline in late December after the U.S. Senate approved a sanctions bill that was signed by President Trump. 

The United States and some EU countries have sounded alarms about overreliance of Europe on Russian energy supplies.  Russian dry gas exports also compete on the continent with LNG exports from the United States.

Nord Stream 2 was one of two major Russian projects nearing completion in 2019 that would enable increased exports of natural gas to Europe via pipelines that bypass Ukraine. The other, TurkStream, is a twin-pipe project that spans the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey.

Nord Stream 2 was within weeks and about 100 miles of completion when Allseas abandoned pipelay operations in the Baltic Sea, where the project is following the route of the original Nord Stream pipeline.  The final stretch of construction will be in Danish territorial waters, as it was the last country to approve a construction permit for the 765-mile (1,230-km) pipeline, which is designed to transport 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.

Nord Stream 2 is backed by OMV AG, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Uniper SE, Engie SA and Wintershall AG.

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