Solitaire completes Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea

Source: Nord Stream

Allseas’ Solitaire, the world’s largest pipelay vessel, has completed work on Line 2 of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea ahead of schedule. The vessel laid 342.5 kilometres of each of the twin pipelines in the Gulf of Finland.

“The Solitaire has lived up to all our expectations,” said Nord Stream’s Construction Director Ruurd Hoekstra. “The Solitaire is a dynamically-positioned vessel which operates without anchors, so only the pipeline itself touches the seabed along the agreed route. This was crucial for us in the Gulf of Finland with its historic lines of mines and congested sea lanes. Using the Solitaire helped us to minimise the impact on the environment and marine traffic and in this section the safety zone around the pipe-laying could be much smaller.”

“All in all, the Solitaire has laid some 57,000, 24-tonne pipes along this key 342.5-kilometre section of the route. The quality of her work has been excellent, and she has even been able to complete her task a few weeks ahead of schedule," Hoekstra added.

At 300 metres long by 40.6 metres wide the Swiss-based Allseas Group’s Solitaire is the length of three football pitches. The vessel has a massive 22,000 tonne pipe-carrying capacity and has work stations on several levels to enable her to receive and store the 12-metre long 24-tonne pipes, weld them together, test the welds, join the pipes to the pipeline and lay it on the seabed along the agreed route. The Solitaire has been operating with a crew of 405, and has been laying pipe 24 hours a day 7 days a week for Nord Stream for almost a year.

The first of Nord Stream’s twin 1,224 kilometre pipelines was completed in June and is currently in the final stages of pre-commissioning. Gas is expected to flow through the pipeline starting in the last quarter of this year. Line 1 will have the capacity to transport 27.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas a year to Europe. The second of the pipelines is scheduled to become operational in late 2012, doubling the transport capacity to 55 bcm.

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