Nord Stream 2 natural gas link could face delays from weather, vessel issues: official
The construction timeline for the planned 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany could slip if bad weather affects pipelaying or if any of the pipelaying vessels have technical issues, a senior official from the pipeline operator said Thursday.
However, Nord Stream 2 chief operating officer Reinhard Ontyd, speaking at S&P Global Platts European Gas Summit in London, said the company still expected to finish building the pipeline on schedule by the end of 2019.
"We are quite confident construction will be completed on time," Ontyd said.
Bad weather in the Baltic could hamper operations, with record high waves being recorded in the past few years, while the operator has also suffered some technical issues already, Ontyd said.
Nonetheless, some 100 km (62 miles) of pipeline has already been laid in German and Finnish waters, he said. The total length of Nord Stream 2 is 1,230 km, so already 8% of the pipeline is laid.
Five vessels in all are planned to be active in the operation, including three Allseas-owned pipelayers -- the Solitaire, Pioneering Spirit and Audacia.
The Solitaire is laying pipe in the Finnish waters at a rate of 3 km a day, while the Audacia began laying pipe offshore Germany on October 6 together with the Saipem-owned Castoro Dieci.
All work on Nord Stream 2 in German territorial waters is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
The Pioneering Spirit -- the world's largest vessel of its kind -- is expected to arrive in the Baltic Sea to start Nord Stream 2 pipelaying by the end of 2018, Ontyd said.
It was used earlier this year to lay the two-string TurkStream pipeline in the Black Sea.
The remaining parts will be laid in Danish, Swedish and Russian waters.
There is still an outstanding environmental permit from Denmark for Nord Stream 2 to procure.
Ontyd said Europe faced a growing import gap due to the combination of steady demand and falling domestic gas production.
The gap could grow to 120 Bcm/year by 2035, which Russian gas -- and to a lesser extent LNG -- would be able to fill, he said.
Given Nord Stream 2's capacity of 55 Bcm/year, Ostyd said this meant there was space for Ukraine to still be used as a transit country.
The 120 Bcm/year import gap is "on top of the Ukraine transit," he said.
Gazprom has often cited the growing Russian gas imports by countries that would be fed by Nord Stream 2 as part of its rationale for building the Eur8-billion link.
On Thursday, Gazprom said it had exported a total of 156.5 Bcm of gas to the Far Abroad (Europe plus Turkey, but not the countries of the former Soviet Union) in the period January 1-October 15, up 5.2% year on year.
"In particular, deliveries to the target markets of the Nord Stream 2 project have significantly increased," Gazprom said in a statement.
German purchases of Gazprom gas were 11.9% higher over January-October 15, it said.
The Gazprom data implies an average total supply rate for October so far of around 487 million cu m/d, the lowest monthly average so far in 2018.