Nord Stream completes the 2nd stage

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gestures after writing 'Good Luck!' on a pipe of the Nord Stream pipeline near Russian town of Vyborg (Reuters / Alexander Demianchuk)
As the second pipeline in Nord Stream project has been laid ahead of schedule, the twin tubes linking Russia and Germany make the delivery of Russian gas to an estimated 26 million households in the EU a step closer.

­The whole system will be operating by the end of the year after commissioning work is completed.

."Pre-commissioning activities for Line 2 have already started. Each of the three sections will be flooded with seawater, cleaned and gauged and thoroughly pressure tested," the operating company Nord Stream AG says. 

Meanwhile the first line of Nord Stream was shut down on Sunday and will remain out of service until the end of April, "The two-week process of adapting, testing and certifying the integrated control system for the twin pipelines requires the valves at both Russian and German landfall to be shut,” the consortium announced.

Nord Stream's first line with an annual capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas was opened last November. The combined design capacity of the two lines is 55 bcm per year.

The Nord Stream’s shareholders include Gazprom with a 51% stake, Germany’s Wintershall Holdings and E.ON Ruhrgas (15.5% each), France's GDF Suez and the Netherlands' Gasunie both have 9%.