Nord Stream on track as first export metre arrives in Vyborg

The first cubic metre of gas to be exported through the Nord Stream gas pipeline has been delivered to the Russian town of Vyborg, with the $10 billion project on track to transform Europe’s energy security.

The European Union has stressed the need to secure alternative routes for importing gas, after supply disruptions in recent winters.

The Nord Stream pipeline – once just a paper project – is now well on its way to being completed, with 100km of the 470km length already built. Michael Sasse, Head of Press and Public Relations at Wingas, says the massive project alone will not be able to keep up with demand.

“We think that every additional pipeline which is constructed is very good for the security of supply to Europe. We need probably more than 250 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the next 10-15 years. The Nord stream brings just a quarter of it, round about 55 per year, so every additional pipeline is really welcome and needed.”

So keen is Europe to get Russian gas via Nord Stream, that they couldn’t wait for the completion date – set for 2011. The Nord Stream pipeline project has been a dream for many for a long time, but with the arrival Wingas representatives in Vyborg to pick up a symbolic cubic meter of gas from Gazprom Export, it shows that Europe and Germany are very keen on its completion and for once, one can say that a fantasy soon might become a reality.

While the EU’s stance is good news for natural gas suppliers and for Nord Stream, Gazprom seems a little more subdued – maybe because there is a worry about where the gas will come from, now that the huge Shtokman project has been shelved. But Mikhail Malgin, Head of NorthWestern markets for Gazprom Export has no doubts about ensuring volumes.

“The existence of the pipeline is a good thing, even the second pipeline is a good thing for Europe because it guarantees the supply or the security of supply and as far as filling is concerned, I have no doubts, we have contracts in place, we have the complete picture how those volumes will be shifted.”

Both sides agree, that even if existing gas routes via Ukraine prove reliable – the option of another, even more secure, route will not only keep homes warm, but also save sleepless nights.