The Fortuna pipe-laying barge has laid the first half-kilometer of Nord Stream 2. The work is complicated by almost stormy winds of up to 25 meters per second. Around 50 kilometers of one pipeline string in Danish waters are expected to be completed by the end of May.
According to Marinetraffic, the pipe-laying barge Fortuna has passed the first 550 meters of the pipeline since it began laying the Baltic Sea pipeline on Saturday.
The work is complicated by the weather. Yesterday, February 7, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) warned that winds of up to 25 meters per second are expected in the southern Baltic and there is a moderate risk of glaciation. Snow and poor visibility is expected tonight. The thermometer could drop to -10 degrees Celsius.
The Fortuna is now working in the escort of supply vessels Baltic Explorer, Veni, and Katun. The barge is laying the pipeline using an anchor positioning system: as the pipeline is welded, it pulls up on established anchors along the route.
Four more supply ships – the Yuri Topchev, the Vladislav Strizhov, the Finval, and the Ivan Sidorenko – are currently anchored off the Mukran, the project base in Germany, some 50 miles away. In the port is the “Umka”. Vessels bring pipes and other materials to the pipe-laying vessel.
Nord Stream 2 AG, the operator of the project, announced on Saturday, February 6, that Fortuna completed its sea trials and started laying pipes in Danish waters. The barge will have to lay 47 kilometers there and another 13.9 kilometers in German waters. On the other branch, more than 80 kilometers are to be built.
The Danish Energy Agency shared with RIA Novosti the Nord Stream 2 AG laying schedule for the branch on which Fortuna works. It assumes that taking into account the stops due to bad weather, the construction speed in Danish waters will be on average 400 meters per day. There, the pipe-laying work is expected to be completed by the end of May, after which the German section will be finished by July.
It is obvious that the second string will be completed by the Akademik Chersky, which is now in the German port of Wismar. The construction speed is higher with this pipelayer, but apparently, the vessel has not yet been certified after the retrofitting work. It arrived in May from Nakhodka, and until the end of September new equipment, including an anchor positioning system, was installed in the port of Mukran. The pipelayer underwent sea trials in October, after which it should have been certified. But in the middle of October, the US State Department imposed restrictions on companies that retrofit and certify vessels for Nord Stream 2, and the Norwegian certifier DNV immediately informed that they were leaving the project.
It is not known what the situation is now. The project operator and Gazprom do not comment on the progress of work and the situation in the pipeline. What is known is that they have involved Russian ship owners in the project in order to minimize the risk of sanctions as much as possible.