TALLINN - The world’s largest pipe-laying vessel, the Allseas’ Solitaire, has started to lay the Gulf of Finland section of the 1,224 kilometer Nord Stream natural gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, reports Nozare.lv. The Solitaire has taken up laying the pipeline 7.5 kilometers from the Russian coast and will continue in a westerly direction through the Gulf of Finland to the 300 kilometer point (KP 300). Afterwards, in January 2011, the vessel will move on to KP 350 and lay the pipeline back towards KP 300.
The Solitaire will also lay the same section of the second string of the pipeline from May to September 2011. The dynamically-positioned Solitaire will operate without anchors in this congested part of the Baltic Sea known for its many historic mine lines.
Construction of the controversial Nord Stream - the most advanced of the new pipelines that Europe will use to help meet its future energy requirements - is progressing on schedule and according to plan. Over 250 kilometers of the first pipeline have already been laid in Swedish and Finnish waters. At the Russian landfall in Portovaya Bay, close to Vyborg, and at the German landfall at Lubmin, near Greifswald, both strings of the pipeline have already been constructed and pulled ashore.
When completed in 2012, both strings of the Nord Stream pipeline will be 1,224 kilometers long and comprise 202,000 concrete weight-coated steel pipes, each weighing up to 23 tons. The Nord Stream pipeline will transport 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to Europe, enough to supply more than 26 million European households.