NEL goes on stream on time

After just 15 months of construction, the North European Gas Pipeline can commence operations on time at the beginning of November 2012 at the same time as the second line of the Nord Stream Baltic Sea pipeline, which has now been completed. Together with OPAL (Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung – Baltic Sea Pipeline Link), which has already been in operation for about a year now, NEL provides the link between the major natural gas reserves in Siberia and the West European gas supply network.

NEL picks up the natural gas arriving through Nord Stream in Lubmin near Greifswald and transports it through Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Lower Saxony to the network connection point at Rehden, from where the natural gas can either be transported onwards to German and West European customers or be fed directly into West Europe’s largest gas storage facility. NEL is around 440 kilometers long and will transport up to 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year in future. That is equivalent to around a fifth of annual consumption in Germany.

While the pipeline was completed in record time in many sections, it was necessary to adjust the route of a section south of Hamburg about 40 kilometers long in the Winsen (Luhe) and Stelle area. A new planned pipeline route, the so-called southern alternative, is currently undergoing the required permitting process. This section is expected to be completed in autumn 2013. Once it has been completed, the full transport capacity will be available.

However, in order to take over gas quantities arriving through the second line of Nord Stream on time, as a temporary measure, the section which has not yet been completed will be bypassed via existing pipeline systems from the network connection point in Sülstorf (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) to Achim near Bremen in Lower Saxony. This means NEL can already make a contribution to further enhancing supply security with partial capacities of about 20 %.

The newly founded NEL Gastransport GmbH will take over network operations for the ownership share of the W & G Group (51 %) from 1 November 2012. The Dutch group Gasunie (20 %), the Belgian group Fluxys (19 %) and E.ON Ruhrgas AG (10 %) also hold shares in NEL.