Baltic Pipe ready to cross land and sea

Proponents of Europe’s Baltic Pipe Project are continuing to check off the relevant boxes towards an operational gas pipeline, with construction on new infrastructure beginning in 2020.

Developed with the purpose of creating a new gas supply corridor in the European market, the Baltic Pipe Project will see the transport of gas from Norway to Denmark, Poland and neighbouring countries, as well as enabling supply from Poland to the Danish market and decreasing reliance on Russian gas.

Several moving pieces

Polish gas pipeline operator GAZ-SYSTEM and Danish operator Energinet have formed a joint venture (JV) partnership to deliver the project, which has been endorsed by the European Union (EU) by appearing on its Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list. The Baltic Pipe Project has held this status since 2013 and the EU has since committed about €265 million (US$286 million) towards the project.

The project is split into five parts that start offshore in the North Sea, where a new offshore pipeline will connect to the existing Europipe II pipeline, thereby creating a link to the Norwegian gas system. The new offshore pipeline will cross to land on Denmark’s west coast to link with the country’s existing onshore transmission system, which will undergo both an expansion and the addition of new pipelines to accommodate the increase in transported volumes.

A new compressor station will be constructed on Denmark’s island of Zealand which will enable the transport of gas from Poland into the Danish transmission system. The new station will connect to a new 275 km offshore gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, where it will link to an expanded Polish system that will include 230–280 km of new pipeline.

Despite the various moving parts, the JV expects the project will be operational by 2022.

The Baltic Pipe Project route with Corinth Pipeworks’ contracted sections. Map courtesy of Corinth Pipeworks.

Permits acquired

In May 2020, the JV announced it had obtained all relevant pipeline construction permits across all sections of the Baltic Pipe Project after the Swedish government approved construction within its territory.

The Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation had issued a permit to allow sections of the pipeline to run through the Swedish Exclusive Economic Zone, the final approval necessary after the pipeline had been given the green light in Poland and Denmark.

GAZ-SYSTEM President Tomasz Stępień says the company appreciated the swift process of its application.

“This decision has shown that Swedish government recognises the project’s importance, not only for Poland and Denmark but also for the whole European Union, for tightening cooperation among the EU member states and, perhaps most of all, for becoming independent of natural gas supplies from Russia,” he says.

Contracts awarded

Also in May 2020, Saipem was awarded a contract worth approximately €280 million (US$303 million) to construct the 275 km natural gas pipeline between Denmark and Poland.

The 36 inch (914 mm) diameter concrete-coated pipeline will be laid in water depths between 4 and 57 m, which Saipem will install using its S-lay vessels.

The contract also includes microtunnelling and civil works activities in Denmark and Poland, including extensive rock dumping, pre- and post-lay trenching and backfilling activities, with operations to commence immediately. Saipem Offshore Division COO Francesco Racheli says the company looked forward to successfully delivering the project.

“This new contract, assigned thanks to our solid track record in pipeline installation projects and arriving at a critical moment for the energy industry worldwide, will help ensure the continuity of European gas supply and reinforces Saipem’s presence in a such a highly strategic area,” he says.

Additionally, while already enlisted for manufacturing duties for the North Sea section of the pipeline in 2019, Corinth Pipeworks was awarded an onshore linepipe contract in May 2020 for the onshore Danish portion of the project.

Corinth Pipeworks plant in Thisvi, Greece. Image courtesy of Corinth Pipeworks.

The order comprised 142 km of 32 inch (812 mm), 36 inch (914 mm) and 40 inch (1,016 mm) submerged arc welding length (SAWL) and submerged arc welding helix (SAWH) steel pipes. The 47,000 t of pipe will be coated with three-layer anti-corrosion polyethylene, epoxy lining for flow assurance and bends.

The pipes will be manufactured and coated at Corinth Pipeworks’ facilities in Thisvi, Greece, with delivery anticipated to run for five months beginning at the start of 2021.

While onshore construction works on the Baltic Pipe Project have already begun, vessels preparing the seabed for pipeline installation will mobilise in the Baltic Sea in the first half of 2021.

This article was featured in the July 2020 edition of Pipelines International. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet or mobile device, click here.

For more information on this project visit the Baltic Pipe Project website

If you have news you would like featured in Pipelines International contact Journalist Sophie Venz at svenz@gs-press.com.au

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