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Just 100 km left to lay of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline: ambassador

Highlights

Latest update suggests steady progress through April, May

Nechayev 'hopeful' pipeline will be complete before German election

Two pipelayers now operational in waters off Denmark

Around 100 km of the subsea Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany are left to lay, Russia's ambassador to Germany, Sergei Nechayev, said May 8.

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In an interview with German media outlet RND, Nechayev also said he was hopeful the pipeline would be completed before the upcoming German election on Sept. 26.

"The weather is now a key factor in completing the pipeline," Nechayev said. "When it improves, we can progress more quickly. Work continues and there are some 100 km left to lay," he said.

Nord Stream 2 remains incomplete after the threat of US sanctions prompted Switzerland-based Allseas to halt work in December 2019 with just 150 km left to lay in Danish and German waters.

Currently two Russian vessels are operating in Danish waters -- the Fortuna and the Akademik Cherskiy.

Gazprom Export chief Elena Burmistrova said in late April during an investor day presentation that a number of factors would impact the timing of the pipelaying work, including weather conditions.

Pipelaying is made more difficult during periods of stormy weather, which have prevailed in recent weeks in the Baltic Sea, potentially limiting pipelaying progress.

As of March 31, a total of 2,339 km of the 2,460 km two-string pipeline had been laid, with 121 km remaining to be laid -- 93 km in Danish waters and 28 km in German waters.

The Nord Stream 2 development company has declined to give any new update on progress of the pipelaying.

However, the comments by Nechayev suggest around 21 km has been laid in Danish waters in the period April 1-May 7, or around 0.6 km per day.

Combined effort

The Adakemik Cherskiy joined the Fortuna carrying out pipelaying south of the Danish island of Bornholm in the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on April 27.

The Fortuna, which uses anchors in pipelaying, resumed operations in Danish waters on Feb. 6.

The Akademik Cherskiy, despite having dynamic positioning capabilities, is able to lay pipeline only at a similar rate to the Fortuna -- estimated at some 0.5 km per day -- as it uses anchors for laying Nord Stream 2.

Its dynamic positioning capability allows it only to lay smaller-diameter pipeline without anchors, which is not the case for Nord Stream 2.

On April 15, Pavel Zavalny, head of the Russian State Duma's energy committee, said he was confident that Nord Stream 2 would be completed in time to begin flowing gas by the end of this summer.

Nord Stream 2 has also faced legal action from environmentalist groups in Germany opposed to its pipelaying in German waters, but it is expected that work can resume from June.

If the Fortuna and the Akademik Cherskiy were able to lay pipe at a combined 1 km per day, and assuming weather conditions allow, it would take roughly 100 days -- or around three months -- to lay the remaining pipeline.

That could see the pipeline completed by early August.

Gazprom wants to shift much of the gas it currently sends to Europe via Ukraine into Nord Stream 2, which would leave Ukraine without much-needed transit revenues.