Challenges in Producing Line Pipe for the Nord Stream Project and Connecting Lines
Proceedings Publication Date
Dr. Christoph Kalwa
Hans-Georg Hillenbrand, Christoph Kalwa
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One of the most important projects for a reliable gas supply for West Europe is the Nord Stream Pipeline that transports Russian gas via the Baltic Sea to Germany. Being a strategic project for West Europe the Nord Stream gas needs an infrastructure connecting the German landfall in East Germany with the national grids of West Europe. For this two projects are of great importance: The OPAL line supplying Nord Stream gas south to South Germany and Czech Republic and the NEL connecting Nord Stream landfall with the “Gas Roundabout” of the Netherlands. Nord Stream ordered at EUROPIPE more than 70% of the 1220 km long double line to be supplied within 3½ years. Being an offshore pipeline with challenging requirements to geometrical and mechanical properties EUROPIPE has to face a comprehensive testing programme due to heavy wall pipes. Since the start of production in April 2008 a quantity of 50 km per month in average has to be produced, released, coated and dispatched to places at the Baltic Sea where heavy weight coating is applied.

Parallel to the both lines of Nord Stream EUROPIPE won the contracts for delivering the entire quantity of pipes for OPAL being about 470 km long and NEL being about 440 km long. Being an onshore pipeline there is a big benefit in pipe laying by using 18m long single pipes to reduce the number of girth welds. Having a diameter of 1420 mm the challenge here is to produce pre-material with homogeneous properties and to handle the plates / pipes with a weight of approximately 15 t during pipe manufacturing, coating and dispatch. A comprehensive test programme accompanies this pipe production also.

In terms of logistics each project is challenging transporting pipes to their destinations. In combination it is the biggest challenge in EUROPIPE’s history. During the production of the first Nord Stream pipeline accompanied by OPAL up to 30.5 km per month which equals 24,700 t per month left the pipe manufacturing site. During the second Nord Stream pipeline accompanied by NEL the same quantities per month have to be managed. The existing infrastructure had to be adapted to this high capacity to load up to 5 trains per day with about 1000 t transport weight per train.

Producing pipes for the three projects, Nord Stream, OPAL and NEL, EUROPIPE contributes significantly to the reliable gas supply in West Europe. EUROPIPE is aware of its responsibility for the safe operation of these pipelines by supplying line pipes of high quality.

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