Gazprom confirmed that the unfinished section of Nord Stream 2 is expected to be completed by the end of April. For this, however, the second pipelayer, the Akademik Chersky, needs to join the laying of the two pipeline strings, and Fortuna needs to work at a faster pace. For the third day now, the barge has been unable to resume work on the pipeline because of the storm.
“As you have seen, from his (the operator of Nord Stream 2 AG) message it follows that the construction of the gas pipeline in Danish waters continues, this is the main section, which has not yet been completed. The possible completion date for this section is April 2021,” Alexander Demchenko, head of Gazprom’s investor relations department, said during the company’s conference call
The representative of the company specified that the project faces significant pressure, so Gazprom discloses information about the project in a limited amount.
As reported by the media, February 8, Danish Maritime Authority in its warning to seafarers said that restrictions on the navigation to the south and southeast of the island of Bornholm due to the laying of two strings of “Nord Stream – 2” will be in force until the end of April. The regulator left in force the information that the Fortuna barge, escorted by the Baltic Explorer and Murman’s vessels, was carrying out the work.
At this speed, the pipe-laying barge will not be able to complete work on one string of Nord Stream 2 in Danish waters by the end of April. It needs to increase its speed to 600 meters per day to do so.
On February 6, the Fortuna resumed completion of the pipeline and passed 550 meters in a day. However, since February 7 it is already the third day when the barge has to stay at one point as a storm is raging in the Baltic Sea.
The barge is working on the shortest unfinished section. It has 47 kilometers to pave in Danish waters and another 13.9 kilometers in German waters. More than 80 kilometers on the other side of the pipeline are to be laid.
If Fortuna completes one line in Danish waters, the second will require another pipelayer, the Akademik Chersky. It is still based in the German port of Wismar.
The construction speed with this pipelayer is faster, but apparently, the ship 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 being 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.