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Nord Stream 2 pipelaying work could resume in Danish waters from Jan. 15: notice

Highlights

Fortuna flagged as vessel to carry out final work

Pipelayer already worked in December to lay German section

Nord Stream 2 could start up in Q2 2021: Platts Analytics

London — The developer of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline could resume pipelaying work in Danish waters as soon as Jan. 15, 2021, according to a notice to sea-farers published Dec. 22 by the Danish Maritime Authority (DMA).

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According to the notice, a section to the southwest of the Danish island of Bornholm up to the maritime border with Germany would be laid by the Russian pipelaying vessel, the Fortuna.

Nord Stream 2 could not be reached for comment Dec. 23.

The operating company is also required to inform the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) of its plan to resume pipelaying in Danish waters. However, a DEA spokesman told S&P Global Platts on Dec. 23 that it had "not received an updated schedule yet."

The Fortuna in mid-December already laid a small 2.6 km stretch of the 55 Bcm/year link in German waters -- the first work on laying the pipeline since December 2019.

The DMA notice said the Fortuna would lay the two-string pipeline sections and be accompanied by the construction vessels Baltic Explorer and Murman.

As well as laying the short German section, the Fortuna had already been used before to lay part of Nord Stream 2 in Russian waters.

It is a vessel that uses anchors, unlike Russia's Akademik Cherskiy pipelayer, which has dynamic positioning capabilities.

Vessels using anchors are typically slower at laying pipe than those with dynamic positioning capabilities.

Updated permit

The DEA in July approved Nord Stream 2's request for permission to lay the line in Danish waters using ships with anchors, meaning it could lay the remaining pipeline using the Fortuna.

Nord Stream 2 had asked -- as a precautionary measure -- for an amendment to its Danish pipelaying permit to allow the potential use of pipelaying ships that use anchors for positioning.

According to the original Danish permit from October last year, pipelaying ships, such as the Pioneering Spirit used by Switzerland-based Allseas to lay much of the pipeline before the US sanctions forced it to halt work, should have dynamic- or self-positioning capabilities.

The Akademik Cherskiy has such capabilities, but there have been question marks about whether it had undergone sufficient upgrade work to be able to lay the remaining pipeline.

Nord Stream 2 remains unfinished, with a little over 150 km left to lay in German and Danish waters.

Without Nord Stream 2, Russia's Gazprom will have to rely on the transit of gas via Ukraine in much larger volumes than it intended when it signed a five-year deal at the end of last year.

Start date

S&P Global Platts Analytics currently assumes a start-up date for Nord Stream 2 of Q2 2021 provided that construction in Danish waters is resumed by mid-January.

Platts Analytics assumes around two months for construction once work begins and another two months for commissioning, including testing.

It also expects a lengthy ramp-up period with the pipeline coming to full capacity only in Q4 2021.

The threat of US sanctions against any company involved in laying the pipeline was thought to have represented an obstacle to pipelaying in Danish waters.