NordStream starts Gulf of Finland construction

  • 2010-09-02
  • TBT Staff

NordStream will construct an underwater gas pipeline connecting Russia with Western Europe.

TALLINN -- NordStream has begun construction on the Gulf of Finland portion of the controversial pipeline, with the world's largest pipelay vessels setting in place the first pipes on Sept. 1.

Allseas’ Solitaire, the world’s largest pipelay vessel, has started to lay the Gulf of Finland section of the 1,224 kilometre Nord Stream natural gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea.

Nord Stream’s Deputy Director Construction Ruurd Hoekstra and Leo Varkevisser, Allseas’ Vice President Projects and Operations, arrived on board the Solitaire to confirm that everything is on schedule and “all systems go” for the start of construction.

The highly controversial Nord Stream project will see an underwater pipeline connect Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. The three Baltic States have all voiced opposition to the project, along with numerous other Eastern European countries.

In addition to environmental concerns, the Baltics fear that the pipeline will make Europe too dependent on Russia for its energy needs. There are also fears that Russia will not be able to arbitrarily cut off gas supplies to Eastern Europe without affecting the large Western European market.

The company has developed a complex lay system that will jump around to different locations in an effort to meet environmental restrictions while making the construction vessels work as efficiently as possible. In this vein, construction in the North-East will halt over the winter to ensure that seals are not disturbed during breeding season.

The first pipeline is scheduled to be operational in 2011, the second one in 2012.