The EU is investing in the Baltic Pipe Project, which will connect gas supplies in Norway, Denmark and Poland.
The project – being developed by Danish gas and electricity operator Energinet and Polish gas operator GAZ-SYSTEM – will bring approximately 10 billion m3/a of gas supply from Norway to Denmark and Poland, as well as 3 billion m3/a of gas from Poland to Denmark.
A feasibility study in 2016 showed that the project would offer significant socioeconomic benefits to the region while remaining compliant with the European Union’s (EU) Energy Policy, which aims to create a secure, affordable and sustainable energy supply.
The project was placed on the EU’s Project of Common Interest (PCI) list, which comprises cross border infrastructure projects that link the energy systems of EU countries. PCIs are intended to help the EU achieve its energy policy and climate objectives.
In January 2019, GAZ-SYSTEM announced that the Baltic Pipe Project had been granted a subsidy of €215 million (US$242 million) by the European Commission for construction works. The award was a Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) grant; CEF is a program for promoting economic growth, employment, competitiveness and ultimately increasing energy security in the region.
This award is the fourth round of CEF funding directed to the project, which also received grants in 2015, 2017 and 2018 that totalled €51.8 million (US$58.3 million).
“We have reached another important stage of the investment,” says GAZ-SYSTEM President Tomasz Stępień.
“The amount of the grant is in line with our application. Thus, the European Commission recognises all our arguments indicating the importance of the Baltic Pipe Project for the entire EU and the region.”
The project comprises five key components: a North Sea offshore pipeline, an onshore transmission system in Denmark, a Danish compressor station, a Baltic Sea offshore pipeline and an onshore transmission system in Poland as seen on map.
The North Sea section comprises a 110 km, 800 mm diameter offshore pipeline between the existing Norwegian gas infrastructure in the North Sea and the Danish onshore transmission system. This section of pipeline will be owned and operated by Energinet, which will also be responsible for the planning and construction activities.
The Danish onshore transmission system will be expanded to accommodate increased capacity, including the installation of approximately 220 km of new 900–1,000 mm diameter pipeline to its gas transmission system. Energinet will also plan, construct, own and operate this new infrastructure. The compressor station in Denmark – owned and operated by Energinet, and co-financed by GAZ-SYSTEM – will increase the pressure of the gas to allow transportation via the offshore Baltic Sea pipeline to Poland.
The Baltic Sea offshore section is a carbon steel bidirectional gas transmission pipeline, approximately 275 km in length and 900 mm in diameter. While the route is yet to be finalised, GAZ-SYSTEM will own this section and be responsible for the design, construction and future operation.
The Polish onshore transmission system – owned and to be planned, constructed and operated by GAZ-SYSTEM – will undergo significant development and expansion as part of the project; it’s expected that 230–280 km of new 900–1,000 mm diameter gas pipeline will be added to the network.
GAZ-SYSTEM’s works in Poland will also include the construction of a 90 km, 900–1,000 mm onshore gas pipeline connecting the offshore gas pipeline to the national transmission system, the 191 km, 1,000 mm Goleniów-Lwówek gas pipeline, as well as three additional compressor stations.
Environment and the community
On 4 February 2019, the Gorzów Wielkopolski Regional Director for Environmental Protection in issued a decision on environmental conditions for the construction of GAZ-SYSTEM’s Goleniów–Lwówek pipeline.
The pipeline will have an operating pressure of 8.4 MPa and will be built across three provinces – Zachodniopomorskie, Lubuskie and Wielkopolskie – alongside the existing Szczecin–Lwówek gas pipeline. Construction will be carried out in two stages: in stage one, a 122 km Goleniów–Ciecierzyce gas pipeline will be constructed, followed by a 69 km Ciecierzyce–Lwówek gas pipeline in stage two.
Last year, Danish authorities opened the first period of public consultation, which attracted 192 comments. Based on the feedback, along with field studies, the pipeline route was adjusted to take into account local considerations like urban development, environmental protection and more.
Following this, in February and March 2019, Danish authorities began a second period of public consultation regarding the environmental impact assessment for the project, inviting landowners, neighbours, municipalities and others with an interest in the project to submit comments.
Baltic Pipe Project Chief Project Manager Søren Juul Larsen said open discussion was welcomed in order to achieve the best outcome for all stakeholders.
“We hope that everyone with comments and remarks regarding the project will participate in the discussions and use the opportunity to submit their views and comments to the authorities,” he says.
“It is in everyone’s interest that all comments, questions and answers are brought forward so that we can establish the gas pipeline in the best possible way and as smoothly as possible.”
The onshore portion of the pipeline is planned to be laid at a depth of approximately 1–2 m, with a firm focus by both operators on restoring the environment to its original condition. The other main component of onshore construction will be the four compressor stations – one in Denmark and three in Poland.
Offshore pipelines will be planned according to local conditions, with some laid on the seabed and others underneath it. To prevent any negative impact on the local community, a 200 m safety zone will be planned around the infrastructure, protecting sea users as well as preventing damage to the pipeline from anchors and other commercial equipment.
In December 2017, a notification was prepared on behalf of GAZ-SYSTEM for the Baltic Sea pipeline, discussing the environmental considerations to be taken into account during the project.
Infrastructure crossing with limited disruption is a key concern, with the incorporation of trenchless technology as the proposed solution. This includes offshore and onshore crossings, for pipelines, telecommunications cables, power cables, rivers, roads and railways.
Another important aspect being taken into account for the offshore work is the landfall installation, with careful planning to minimise environmental damage. Four methods of construction are under consideration for environmental and engineering analysis: open excavation and horizontal directional drilling (HDD), microtunnelling and direct jacking.
The document notes that as HDD does not involve any activities between the entry point and the exit point, it is the preferred method for crossing heavily built-up or environmentally sensitive shore areas and that “even in the absence of such concerns, it is an attractive alternative to cutting a deep trench through a high cliff”.
The pipeline operators will be responsible for the supervision of gas transfer, checks and works related to the maintenance on the asset. Technical operations will take place with the purpose of ensuring the integrity of the pipeline, in particular maintaining the proper pressure and secure infrastructure.
Activities will include geotechnical surveys in order to control the integrity of the pipeline and the surrounding environment, while pigs will be used for monitoring the wall thickness and possible pipe corrosion.
Following the basic and detailed engineering planning in 2018, the environmental assessment report, public hearings and procurement for long-lead items and construction contract negotiations are expected to be finished by the end of 2019.
The Baltic Pipe Project is planned to be fully operational by 1 October 2022.
For more information visit the Baltic Pipe website.
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