The demand for natural gas in the European Union has seen a steady year-on-year increase over the past decades. At the same time the domestic supplies of the EU are running out. The existing network of import pipelines does not provide sufficient transport capacity to cover this supply gap.
Therefore, OAO Gazprom (Russia), E.ON Ruhrgas AG (Germany), BASF SE/Wintershall Holding AG (Germany) and N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie (Netherlands) have joined forces to build Nord Stream – a new pipeline route for natural gas through the Baltic Sea. This will provide the European Union with an additional import system for additional volumes of natural gas.
Nord Stream AG plans to have the first of two parallel pipelines operational in 2011.
Each line is 1,223 kilometres long, providing a transport capacity of some 27.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year. Full capacity of about 55 bcm per year will be reached in the second phase, when the second line goes on stream.
Current status of the project – Construction to start in spring 2010
As a cross-border project, Nord Stream is subject to international conventions and national legislation in each of the countries through which it passes. It has invested 100 million euros in environmental studies and planning and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was completed along the whole pipeline route. This is a detailed study of environmental aspects in a trans-boundary context. The process is governed by international law (Espoo Convention) and by national legislation in the countries concerned
Nord Stream has received all necessary permits to start construction from the countries to whose waters the pipeline will traverse: Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.
The technical concept and the detailed design engineering are also finalised and certified. A customised logistics infrastructure in the Baltic Sea region, comprising of weight-coating plants, interim stock yards and transshipment facilities, has been developed in the past three years to ensure that the Nord Stream Pipeline is laid with maximum efficiency and in compliance with all safety regulations.
The project is well on track – construction of the Nord Stream Pipeline is planned to start in the first quarter of 2010, with the first pipeline operational in 2011. The second pipeline will go on stream in 2012.