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    Nord Stream 2 begins gas-filling process


The pipeline delivers Russian natural gas to the European market.

by: Daniel Graeber

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Nord Stream 2 begins gas-filling process

The consortium behind the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Europe said October 4 gas had started moving through the first string of the artery.

Nord Stream, inaugurated in 2011, is a two-line pipeline stretching from the Baltic Sea to Germany. Nord Stream 2 mirrors that line and the first stretch of the network has now received its first gas.

“This string will be gradually filled to build the required inventory and pressure as a prerequisite for the later technical tests,” Nord Stream 2 AG said.

The project consortium is led by Russian energy company Gazprom and includes French energy company Engie, Germany’s OMV, Wintershall Dea and Uniper, along with Anglo-Dutch major Shell.

The injection of natural gas, however, does not indicate the network is formally in service. Nord Stream 2 AG is applying for certification as an independent transmission system operator, a key requirement if the 55bn m³/yr pipeline is to start commercial operations.

Uniper indicated October 1 that delays in the certification of the pipeline meant the project is unlikely to address lingering supply-side issues in the European market.

"The certification of the pipeline, as far as I know, will be so late it will probably not be able to help us out this winter," Uniper chief executive Klaus-Dieter Mauchbach told the Reuters news service.

The formal start of operations could alleviate supply-side pressures that are in part behind the exponential increase in natural gas prices. The 1,200-km pipeline is for all intents and purposes complete, although the certification process, which started in September, can take as long as four months.