Nord Stream 2 is a new gas export pipeline being built to deliver Russian gas to Europe, across the Baltic Sea.

Russia's state-owned gas export monopoly Gazprom is developing the twin 1,230km pipeline through its wholly-owned subsidiary Nord Stream 2, which will also own and operate the pipeline.

Nord Stream 2 follows the design and route of the existing Nord Stream pipeline, which has been operational since November 2011.

Originating from eastern Russia, the new pipeline will pass through Finnish, Swedish and Danish waters to terminate near the German coast of the Baltic Sea.

Nord Stream 2 will have the capacity to carry 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas and serve approximately 26 million households in Western Europe.

It will increase the total capacity of the Nord Stream gas export system to 110bcm, upon completion by early 2021.

Financing for the Nord Stream 2 project

The investment on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is estimated to be £8.4bn ($11bn).

Gazprom, the sole shareholder of the project, is investing more than half of the project cost, while the remaining is being invested by Engie, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall.

Engie, OMV, Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall agreed to invest $1bn each on the pipeline project, as part of a financial agreement signed with Nord Stream 2, in April 2017.

Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline development and US sanctions

The feasibility study for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project was started in 2011 and completed in 2013.

Construction approvals in Germany, Finland, Sweden and Russia were received respectively in March, April, June and August 2018, while construction permit for the Danish segment was obtained in October 2019.

Preparatory works for the pipeline started in 2016 and the first set of pipes that Europipe manufactured for the project arrived at the Mukran logistics hub in Germany in October 2016.

Offshore construction works started in the Gulf of Finland, with the use of a 300m-long pipe-laying vessel named Solitaire in September 2018.

The overall construction of the cross-border pipeline was completed by almost 94%, with pipe laying on a 160-km stretch in Danish waters and works on pipeline endpoints in Russia and Germany pending for completion as of December 2019.

The pipeline was originally expected to enter service by the end of 2019 or in early 2020.

However, the USA’s Trump administration signed a law to impose sanctions on the companies engaged in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project in December 2019.

Fearing the US sanctions might block its access to the US financial system, Swiss-Dutch deep-sea pipe laying company Allseas suspended work on the Nord Stream 2 project in the same month.

Russia is hopeful to complete the pipeline by the end of 2020 or early 2021 by using Gazprom’s two pipe-laying vessels.

Nord Stream 2 pipeline design details

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be constructed parallel to the existing Nord Stream pipeline. It will consist of two strings with a capacity of 27.5bcm each.

Each string will consist of 100,000 coated steel pipes, while each pipe joint will be 12m-long and weigh 24t.

The internal diameter and wall thickness of each string will be 1.15m and 41mm, respectively.

Nord Stream 2 gas source and supply details

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will transport gas produced by the Bovanenkovo natural gas field located in Yamal Peninsula, Russia. The gas field is estimated to contain 4.9 trillion cubic meters (tcm) of recoverable gas.

The feed gas will be received via Gazprom’s Slavyanskaya gas compressor station located near Narva Bay.

The natural gas delivered by Nord Stream 2 will be first received at GASCADE Gastransport’s Lubmin 2 natural gas receiving station near the Bay of Greifswald in northern Germany.

The Lubmin 2 station will further connect the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to European Gas Pipeline Link (EUGAL) and Northern European gas pipeline (NEL).

Nord Stream 2 route details

Nord Stream 2 will originate at the Slavyanskaya gas compressor station near Narva Bay and run 3.2km onshore along the sea coast before stretching for 114km in Russian offshore waters to connect to the Finnish section of the pipeline.

It will further run 374km offshore in Finnish waters and 510km in Swedish waters in the Baltic Sea before entering Danish waters, with the section in Denmark being 139km-long.

The German section of Nord Stream 2 will comprise 85km of offshore and 29km of onshore segments connecting the Lubmin 2 gas receiving station.

Contractors involved with the Nord Stream 2 project

German company Europipe and Russian companies United Metallurgical Company (OMK) and Chelyabinsk Pipe-Rolling Plant (Chelpipe) were selected as the pipe suppliers for the Nord Stream 2 project in March 2016.

Europipe was to supply 40% of the total pipe joints required for the project, while OMK and Chelpipe were responsible for the remaining 60%.

Wasco Coatings Europe was awarded the concrete weight coating, pipe storage and logistics contract for the project, in September 2016.

Blue Water Shipping was awarded a $46m subcontract by Wasco Coatings for the transportation, handling and storage of pipeline segments in Germany, Finland and Sweden, in June 2017.

A joint venture of Boskalis and Van Oord was awarded a $291m rock placement contract as part of the preparatory work for the project, in July 2017.

Allseas was contracted to supply its offshore pipe-laying vessel Solitaire, in April 2017.

Kvaerner was awarded a contract worth $73m for the civil, mechanical and piping works related to the onshore facilities at the export land fall of the pipeline in Russia, in 2017.

Saipem was awarded the pipe-laying contract for the offshore segment of the pipeline in Germany by using its pipe-laying vessel named C10 in August 2017.

Nord Stream 2 project controversy

Being entirely controlled by Russia, the Nord Stream 2 project has generated more geo-political tensions than the existing Nord Stream pipeline.

USA, along with most of the Central and Eastern European countries such as Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania, disapproved the project apprehending that the pipeline would increase Europe’s energy dependence on Russia leading to growing influence of Russia in the region.

It is also alleged that the pipeline will not only undermine Europe’s energy security but also deprive Ukraine of transit fees earned from the existing pipeline infrastructure for the Russian gas supply to Europe.

The governments of Ukraine, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Poland, Romania and Slovakia gave a representation to the European Commission voicing their disapproval of the Nord Stream 2 project, in December 2015.

Ukraine also filed a lawsuit with the Energy Community Secretariat of the European Union requesting for an order to stop the construction of the project, in February 2016.

The European countries are divided on their opinion on the project, with Germany, which imports more than half of its natural gas from Russia, being at the centre of criticism by the opponents.