Putin: First Nord Stream 2 Line Completed

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Gazprom has completed laying the first of the Nord Stream 2 project's two parallel gas pipelines, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. The second line should be completed in two months, Putin told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Nord Stream 2 runs 1,200 kilometers from Russia to Germany and has the capacity to carry 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year. It follows a similar route beneath the Baltic Sea as the original Nord Stream pipeline, which has the same capacity and started delivering Russian gas to Germany in 2011. The US has opposed the Nord Stream 2 project, but the Biden administration recently announced measures that left the door open for the last sections of pipeline to be laid (WGI May26'21). Nevertheless, Russia’s permanent representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, was recently quoted as saying that the US could still hinder the certification process, which is required for the pipeline to start operations. Pipeline certification services for Nord Stream 2 are subject to sanctions under legislation approved earlier this year as part of the US defense spending bill. That prompted Norwegian certifier DNV GL to withdraw from the project. "I believe [Nord Stream 2] should be completed," Putin said, citing the Biden administration’s statements that it wants to rebuild US relations with Germany and other European allies, which cooled under the Trump administration. What Are the Next Steps? The first Nord Stream 2 line still needs to be connected to its landfall sections in Russia and Germany, Putin said, but he added that this should only take around 10 days. The required pre-commissioning activities will then be carried out, a spokesperson for Gazprom's wholly owned Nord Stream 2 AG subsidiary told Energy Intelligence. During the pre-commissioning stage, the pipeline is expected to undergo pressure tests, after which it can be certified. Putin said the Slavyanskaya compressor station at Nord Stream 2's starting point in Russia is operational and that Gazprom is ready to fill the pipeline with gas. Russia May Still Ship Some Gas via Ukraine Putin said Russia does not intend to stop delivering gas to Europe via Ukraine once Nord Stream 2 is up and running -- a comment that might be intended to mollify Washington. US opposition to Nord Stream 2 has been based in large part on political support for Ukraine, which could lose crucial transit revenue if Gazprom redirects most of the gas exports that were previously routed through that country. In addition to Nord Stream 2, Ukraine could also see a sharp fall in transit volumes as a result of the 31.5 Bcm/yr Turk Stream pipeline that started operations in early 2020. Gazprom has a transit agreement with Ukraine, under which it has booked 40 Bcm/yr of transit capacity for 2021-24, and Putin has said Gazprom could continue to use the Ukraine transit route if Kiev is willing to accept lower fees. "We assume that supplies to Europe will grow," he said, suggesting that Gazprom may retain an appetite for Ukrainian transit capacity. Russia expects to increase its gas exports to Europe by 50 Bcm/yr over the next 10 years, he said. Putin said Russia’s pipeline gas exports to Europe may exceed 200 Bcm this year, up from around 175 Bcm in 2020. However, Gazprom’s latest forecast for this year was a more conservative 175 Bcm to 183 Bcm (IOD May11'21). Vitaly Sokolov, St. Petersburg

Gas Pipelines, Sanctions
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