ENERGY CORRIDORS"Nord Stream" is operating at maximum capacity

EMILIA OLESCU (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section /

"Nord Stream" is operating at maximum capacity

The developers of the project intend to extend the gas pipeline with two more ramifications 

Since yesterday, the "Nord Stream" pipeline is operating at maximum capacity, as announced by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

In his speech, addressed to the attendees for the festivity of the commissioning of the new pipeline, the head of the Russian state said, quoted by "Voice of Russia": "Today an event happened which is very important for us. We have completed the building of the second ramification, and the < Nord Stream > pipeline is beginning to function at maximum capacity. European consumers will be able to receive annually up to 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas".

"Nord Stream" crosses the territorial waters of five Baltic states, representing an investment of 6.4 billion Euros, money raised through the biggest banks in the world.

Experts say that the project is one of the most successful in Europe and that its construction must continue.

According to president Putin, Russian, Italian, German and Japanese companies participated in the construction of the project.

"Unique technological tasks were accomplished. In less than two years and a half, 2500 kilometers of pipeline were built at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The works were conducted under difficult conditions, out at sea, at great depths. Innovative methods were used", the Russian president also said, who went on to say that over 100 million Euros were invested in the scientific and ecological studies.

"Nord Stream" can operate in a completely automated manner, under the permanent control of the coordination center, without any intermediary compression stations, which will allow for lower operating costs and lower carbon dioxide emissions.

The new pipeline is capable of meeting Europe's rising demand for energy resources, according to Vladimir Putin.

"The gas will be delivered directly, using the shortest route, which ties the largest Russian gas deposits to the European markets, without any transit risks - in a stable manner and without interruptions. We guarantee it", the Russian president also said, who expressed his hope that the European Union will also contribute to the efficient use of the potential of "Nord Stream".

"Nord Stream" carries Russian natural gas crossing the Baltic Sea towards Germany. The first section of the project was inaugurated in November last year, and has a maximum annual capacity of the 27.5 billion cubic meters of gas. At a maximum capacity, the two sections carry 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

"Gazprom" owns 51% of "Nord Stream", "Wintershall" and E.ON of Germany own 15.5% each, and "Gasunie" of Holland and "GDF Suez" (France) - own about 9% each.

Russia is the main provider of natural gas in Europe, over 80% of its exports are transported by Ukraine's network. Conflicts tied to the transit price and the price for the natural gas imported by Ukraine from the Russian Federation have led to several disruptions in Europe's gas supply. This caused Russia to look for alternative transport solutions.

The decision to build a new pipeline was made in 2005, but the shareholder structure was only established in 2010.

The shareholders of "Nord Stream" don't want to stop at this stage of the project, as they intend to expand the pipeline by building two more branches, one of which will go to Great Britain.

The shareholders of the "Nord Stream" consortium yesterday approved the execution of a feasibility study on the construction of two new lines, the third and the fourth, for the export of natural gas from Russia to Europe.

According to a press release, the shareholders have adopted a resolution according to which, a new company, which will be drafted in Q2 2013, will be in charge of the development of the new project.

Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller said that a memorandum of understanding on the new lines of "Nord Stream" will be signed by the end of this year.

He said: "The construction of the third and fourth line was accepted as viable from an economic and technical point of view".

German chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the importance of the "Nord Stream" project: "Today, one of the most ambitious projects of our time in the energy infrastructure area is ending. The commissioning of the second branch of the < Nord Stream > gas pipeline proves that the strategic partnership between Russian and the EU has a solid foundation. Our long term equitable partnership will bring benefits to both parties: Europe gets more reliability when it comes to its gas supply, and Russia gets stable demand and profitable sales of natural gas".

Dutch PM Mark Rutte said that the project could be considered revolutionary, from all points of view. "This is a completely new approach for reaching goals. I want to congratulate everyone for these remarkable results. The International Energy Agency called this < The golden age of the gas industry >. And not without reason: gas is the cheapest and cleanest commodity, compared to other sources of energy".

French president Francois Hollande revealed the ecologic importance of this project, by saying: "The construction of this underground ramification with a length of 1,220 kilometers meets the highest requirements, including those concerning the environment. < Nord Stream > will also have a significant contribution to ensuring the energy security of Europe, by diversifying its gas supply routes".

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