12 May 2012, 17:25

Nord Stream to become more powerful

Nord Stream to become more powerful

The capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline can be increased. According to the operator company Nord Stream AG, opportunities for building another one or even two legs of the main pipeline under the Baltic Sea will be considered before the end of this year.

The capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline can be increased. According to the operator company Nord Stream AG, opportunities for building another one or even two legs of the main pipeline under the Baltic Sea will be considered before the end of this year. Experts have been given a task to prepare a feasibility study for the next project which will extend the routes of Russian gas to Europe.

The idea of extending Nord Stream sprang up last year. At the end of December Alexey Miller, the head of the Russian Gazprom company which is the main shareholder of the Nord Stream international project, shared the plans of the holding to raise the volume of gas going to Europe under the Baltic Sea to 110bn cubic metres a year. This could considerably strengthen the energy security of the EU for the next 50 years, analyst Dmitry Lutiagin says.  

“The consumption of gas on the European market is expected to grow by 10-15% annually. Europe will need gas but it has no gas of its own. In the fields where they traditionally extract gas the resources have depleted. For this reason, Europeans will in any case depend on the import of Russian gas, shale gas from the US and pipeline gas from North Africa. However, the situation in North Africa and the Middle East is not quite favourable and Russia is a reliable partner which regularly sends the required volumes of gas to Europe.”

Meanwhile, there is the so-called Third Energy Package which seems to have been compiled so as to put obstacles on the way of Russian gas to Europe, President of the Union of Oil and Gas Industrialists Gennady Shmal says. For this reason, the Nord Stream holding should carefully weigh its benefits.

"The legs that branch off Nord Stream on the territory of Germany fall under the requirements of the Third Energy Package.  This means that the legs may only be used at 50% of their capacity. The remaining 50% are due to be reserved for any suppliers that actually do not exist. As a result, the recoupment of the invested money will take much longer.”

The first leg of the Nord Stream is functioning at present. Its project capacity is 27bn of cubic metres of gas a year. The construction of the second leg has been completed and it will be launched this autumn. After that, the capacity of the pipeline lying under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Denmark and other European countries will reach 55bn of cubic metres a year.

In addition, next year Gazprom is planning to lay another pipeline for gas deliveries to Europe. The South Stream pipeline with a capacity of over 60bn cubic metres of gas a year will lie under the Black Sea to the countries of Central and Southern Europe. The agreement of the countries whose territory will be crossed by the pipeline has been received.

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