Nord Stream Pipeline Connected to OPAL

Lubmin, August 25, 2011. The direct link between the major Russian reserves in Siberia and the European natural gas market is in place: The first line of the Nord Stream Pipeline is now connected to the OPAL natural gas pipeline (Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungs-Leitung – Baltic Sea Pipeline Link). “The pipeline system is now ready for the next complex steps of bringing the pipeline on stream, which means we will be able to commission the first of the Nord Stream twin pipelines in the fourth quarter of 2011 as planned,” Dr. Georg Nowack, Nord Stream AG project manager for Germany, explained. “The connecting pipeline OPAL, which will pick up the natural gas from Nord Stream and transport it onwards, is already complete,” said Bernd Vogel, Managing Director of OPAL NEL TRANSPORT GmbH, a company of the WINGAS Group which will operate the connecting pipeline. “So we are ready. The Russian natural gas can come.”

The last welding seam connecting the first line of the Nord Stream Pipeline and the OPAL pipeline was completed on the grounds of the natural gas transfer station in Lubmin near Greifswald, where the Nord Stream Pipeline reaches the German coast. Over 200 staff from regional and national companies are currently working on the 12-hectare piece of land near the Lubmin port preparing the transfer station for subsequent operations. Together the participating companies are investing around 100 million euros in Lubmin alone. In addition to OAO Gazprom, BASF subsidiary Wintershall Holding GmbH, E.ON Ruhrgas AG, Dutch company N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie and GDF SUEZ from France all hold a stake in Nord Stream. The WINGAS Group has an 80 percent share and E.ON Ruhrgas AG a 20 percent share in the connecting pipeline OPAL.

The OPAL natural gas pipeline was already completed more than a month ago. The pipeline has now been filled with gas and is ready to transport the Nord Stream gas onwards to the Czech Republic. A few days ago the first line of the 1,224 kilometre long Nord Stream Pipeline was connected at the landfalls in Russia and Lubmin. “The pipeline through the Baltic Sea has already been pressure tested, drained and dried and since August 22 completely filled with nitrogen, which serves as a safety buffer between air and gas,” Nord Stream project manager Nowack explains. The next step is to gradually fill the pipeline with gas from Russia, and then the first line of the Nord Stream Pipeline will be ready for operation on time.

Other facts on the welding:

The pipeline section in Lubmin has a diameter of 900 millimeters (36 inches).

Welding process: MAG welding with inert shielding gas (argon), semi-automatic.

Number of welded positions: eight (root, hot pass, 5 filler passes and a cap).

The connecting weld seam has a total length of 2.8 meters.

The entire welding process lasts about three hours.

After the welding work, the seam is inspected by ultrasound for any possible faults