The Nord Stream pipeline is going to be filled with gas on September 6th . Having delivered a statement to that effect the day before, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stressed that the $7.5 billion project was nearly accomplished to become Russia’s energy “window to Europe”.
September 6th will witness process gas being pumped through the pipes of Nord Stream’s first thread that originates in the city of Vyborg. This will become sort of a robustness test for the entire construction, with first direct supplies of the Russian fuel to European consumers scheduled for late October. Thus, the launch of the pipeline will put an end to the dictate of transit countries, Vladimir Putin said.
Until now, Russia has been transporting its natural gas to Europe only via the territories of Ukraine and Belarus. The new 1,220 km long pipeline laid across the Baltic seabed from Russia’s Vyborg to Greifswald in Germany is capable of satisfying a fourth of Europe’s gas demand, the project’s managing director Matthias Warning estimated. Nord Stream’s first leg has a capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters per year, while the second line planned to be finished by 2012 will increase annual gas supplies to Europe to 55 billion cubic meters.
Moscow’s interest in a speedy launch of the pipeline is understandable – after all, Russia is one of the world’s leading energy exporters. As for European countries, they place major emphasis on the involvement of such Western energy giants as Germany’s E.ON Ruhrgas and BASF/Wintershall, as well as France’s Gaz de France Suez alongside the Russian Gasprom company. The project’s significance is growing in view of Europe’s decision to close its nuclear power plants and a subsequent increase in gas demand. In these circumstances, the Nord Stream will ensure stable supplies that will be never again disrupted by transit countries like it had happened earlier, expert at the National Energy Security Foundation Alexander Pasechnik said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.
“The Nord stream will allow Russia to do away with risks accompanying gas supplies to the European Union and bypass such countries as Ukraine and partially Belarus. Thanks to the new pipeline, we will halve our transit dependence on the Ukrainian gate system,” says Alexander Pasechnik.
The solemn ceremony to launch the newly built pipeline at the Portovaya compressor station near Vyborg will be, among others, attended by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Europe is already anticipating the beginning of Russian blue-sky fuel supplies. Gasprom signed long-term contracts with Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Great Britain.