In the Indian Ocean, the story of the Akademik Chersky pipe-laying machine, which will complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, is being repeated. Sri Lanka was approached for refueling the Gazprom Fleet from Vladivostok, and a group of Russian warships arrived there after them. As last time, they will obviously accompany the vessels to complete the Nord Stream 2 through the Indian Ocean. Earlier, the US threatened new participants in the construction of the Baltic gas pipeline.
Yesterday, June 2, the supply vessels Ivan Sidorenko and Ostap Sheremeta approached the port of Colombo. They follow from Vladivostok to the Baltic Sea, judging by the procurement data of Gazprom Fleet. Given US sanctions on shipowners for participating in Nord Stream 2, these vessels are the most suitable candidates for servicing the Akademik Chersky pipe layer during the completion of the gas pipeline.
Yesterday afternoon, at Colombo, Ivan Sidorenko and Ostap Sheremet were bunkered with fuel from a tanker from Lanka Marine Services. However, the vessels still have not left the port raid and have already changed the final destination from Indian Kochi to the anchorage at Colombo.
Meanwhile, the press service of the Southern Military District said that today, June 3, a group of ships of the Black Sea Fleet — the Admiral Grigorovich frigate equipped with the Caliber-NK missile system and the rescue ship Professor Nikolai — approached the port of Sri Lanka’s capital. Muru. ” “After replenishment of reserves, Admiral Grigorovich and Professor Nikolai Muru will continue to carry out tasks in accordance with the task,” said the Southern Military District.
A similar situation occurred in early March. Then, the Akademik Chersky pipe layer, coming from Nakhodka to the Baltic, approached Sri Lanka, and the next day the Baltic Fleet patrol ship Yaroslav the Wise and the Yelnya tanker. From Sri Lanka, they accompanied a vessel capable of building the Nord Stream 2 vessel to South Africa itself.
Obviously, in this case, too, the ships of the Russian Navy will be guarded by the Gazprom Fleet. It is not clear whether they will go along the shortest route, through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, or whether they prefer a longer route – bypassing Africa, as the Academician Chersky pipelayer did.
It is noteworthy that the frigate Admiral Grigorovich and the rescue ship Professor Nikolai Muru arrived in the Indian Ocean to demonstrate the flag of Russia recently. In mid-May, they were still on duty off the coast of Syria in the Mediterranean Sea and headed for the Indian Ocean a few days after the vessels of the Gazprom Fleet left Vladivostok.
Ivan Sidorenko and Ostap Sheremeta are the new supply vessels for Gazprom Fleet. Their tasks include, inter alia, ensuring the construction of gas pipelines. Now in the German port of Mukran are the Russian pipe layers Akademik Chersky and Fortuna. Obviously, they will lay Nord Stream 2 along two branches simultaneously. For this, each of them will need at least two support vessels, which are also not easy to find due to US sanctions. They will deliver pipes and materials from Mukran and will be on duty at the pipe layers, providing, among other things, a security zone for work. Thus, Ivan Sidorenko and Ostap Sheremet will be able to provide the work of Academician Chersky. The transfer of ships to the Baltic Sea will take one and a half to two months.
An indirect confirmation that the vessels are following the completion of Nord Stream 2 may be the announcement of Gazprom Fleet, which he placed on the electronic trading platform of Gazprombank. In it, the company announced a price request for the purchase of 15 televisions indicating the ship “Ostap Sheremet” and the delivery of cargo to Kaliningrad. In July, Gazprom Fleet will hold a tender for the purchase of pressure gauges for the Omega-S compressed air breathing apparatus for Ostap Sheremeta and Ivan Sidorenko with their delivery to St. Petersburg, according to OTC.
The US is threatening new sanctions to Nord Stream 2 participants – now restrictions on serving vessels and their owners. Meanwhile, as reported by RBC, the Akademik Chersky pipe layer changed its owner so that Gazprom would not fall under US sanctions. Judging by the Russian International Register of Ships, the ship now belongs to the Samara Thermal Energy Property Fund (STIF). According to the agency, as early as March 31, 2020, STIF was part of the Gazprom Group: “Gazprom Teploenergo (51%) and Gazprom Mezhregiongaz Samara (49%) were listed as founders of the STIF, follows from an extract from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities. Both enterprises are part of the Gazprom Mezhregiongaz Group, the energy distribution structure of Gazprom. ”
There is no information on the owner of Ostap Sheremeta and Ivan Sidorenko in the Russian International Register of Ships. It only says that from January and December 2019 they no longer belong to the United Shipbuilding Corporation, which built them. Ostap Sheremeta and Ivan Sidorenko joined the Gazprom fleet at the end of the last or the beginning of this year, and Gazprom Fleet still indicates them, unlike the Academician Chersky, with its vessels.
Major work to complete Nord Stream 2 may begin in the fall. Firstly, the planned retrofitting of the “Academician Chersky” will take several months. Secondly, the operator of the Nord Stream 2 AG project has yet to submit an updated work plan and coordinate it with the Danish Energy Agency (DEA). And besides, the DEA authorization says that in July – August, cod spawning in the area of Bornholm Island and for two months all work it is prohibited.
To complete the pipeline, it remains to lay about 160 km in the Baltic Sea. The postponement of the start of work in autumn will delay the launch of the gas pipeline, but it is well within the deadlines set by Russian President Vladimir Putin: at the end of 2020 – the first quarter of 2021.