Jan 25, 2021
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“Fortune” in action. Construction of “SP-2” resumed in Danish waters

The struggle for the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project continues. As RIA Novosti reports with reference to the project operator, the Fortuna vessel has resumed laying the Nord Stream 2 in Danish waters.

One more step

As noted in the company, the work is proceeding in accordance with the received approvals.

The decision of the Danish Energy Agency on the possibility of using vessels with anchor positioning to complete the construction of Nord Stream 2 entered into force in August 2020. This allowed Nord Stream 2 AG, in addition to the Akademik Chersky pipelayer, to use the Fortuna and Defender pipelaying barges.

The resumption of construction after a long break occurred on December 13, 2020. Then “Fortuna” began laying pipes in German waters. It was about a 2.6 km section. As the experts noted, this site itself was not the most difficult and problematic, but an important factor was that construction still resumed after a very long pause.

Fortuna left the completion zone in German waters on 28 December. The next day, the press office of Nord Stream 2 AG announced that the planned work had been completed. At the same time, it was announced that in January work would begin on laying pipes in the waters of Denmark.

Danish factor

The length of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea is 1,234 km (2,468 km along two lines). The project, conceived as an increase in the opportunities created after the implementation of the first Nord Stream, affects the exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of five countries: Germany, Denmark, Russia, Finland and Sweden. The length of the pipeline for the Russian section is 118 km, for the Finnish section – 374 km, for the Swedish section – 510 km, for the Danish section – 147 km, and for the German section – 85 km.

For a long time, it was the position of Denmark that was the main deterrent to construction. The Danish authorities have been considering the three proposed routes for the pipeline in their waters for over two years. A significant part of “SP-2” had already been built, but there was still no answer from Denmark. According to many experts, there were no objective reasons for such a delay, but the Danes were influenced by the foreign policy factor in the form of the position of Washington, which categorically objected to the implementation of the project.

The first Danish permit was obtained at the end of October 2019. When the “Danish factor” ceased to operate, the United States imposed sanctions on the companies involved in the construction. As a result, on December 21, 2019, the Swiss pipe-laying company Allseas withdrew its ships from the construction zone. At that time, the laying of the SP-2 was 93.5 percent complete (over 2,300 km of the pipeline).

Fortuna is racing against sanctions

The construction was resumed after it became possible to connect vessels with Russian jurisdiction to it, which makes it possible to minimize the impact on them of US sanctions.

Despite the fact that the successful construction of the 2.6 km section in December 2020 is not a decisive factor in bringing the construction to its logical conclusion, in the United States, Fortuna’s successes were extremely disliked.

On January 19, 2021, the US Treasury, within the framework of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), adopted in 2017, introduced sanctions directly against Fortuna and its owner, KBT-Rus.

The fact that Fortuna has begun work in Danish waters indicates that the next American decision to continue construction does not interfere.

The current location of Fortuna indicates that work has begun on the shortest unfinished pipeline, which is 47 km long. This is confirmed by the map published by the Danish regulator together with the announcement of the start of construction work.

Fortuna’s technical capabilities allow it to lay up to 1.5 km of pipes per day. 70 km of pipes are to be laid along the second string of the gas pipeline, and no information has yet been received about the start of this work.

“SP-2” slowed down with the help of ecologists

Meanwhile, the other day it became known that Gazprom, in a memorandum for investors on the company’s new Eurobonds, warned of the risks for the SP-2 gas pipeline due to political pressure on the project.

“In exceptional cases, including due to political pressure, such changes may lead to the suspension or cancellation of the project,” – RIA Novosti quoted the text of the document.

Another attempt to disrupt the completion of the gas pipeline was made by German environmentalists. The non-governmental organization Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) operating in Germany has appealed a permit issued by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) for the construction of a section of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the exclusive economic zone of Germany. These are two sections with a length of 16.5 and 13.9 km, respectively. Head of the environmental organization Jörg-Andreas Kruger believes that the implementation of the project may harm the protected habitat and recreation area of ​​seabirds. BSH believes that these fears are unfounded, but the filing of a complaint by environmentalists means the suspension of a previously issued building permit. Nord Stream 2 prefers not to comment on this decision.

Deutsche Welle portal with link to BSH CEO Karin Kamman-Klippstein reports that the proceedings with environmentalists may last until 2022. If this forecast is justified, the terms of commissioning “SP-2” will again be postponed.

The key factor in this situation is the position of the German government. Official Berlin still adheres to the point of view according to which “SP-2” is extremely beneficial to the country, and therefore must be completed.

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