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World´s Largest Pipelay Vessel Solitaire Restarts Construction of the Finnish Section of the Nord Stream Pipeline

  • Solitaire will lay the majority of the first pipeline in the Gulf of Finland
  • Construction is proceeding on schedule

Oct. 18, 2010 | Zug/Helsinki | Construction of the Nord Stream Pipeline will resume in the Finnish section of the route as the pipelay vessel Solitaire is scheduled to enter the Eastern part of the Finnish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on Thursday October 21. Solitaire will construct the majority of the Finnish section of Nord Stream during autumn 2010 and early 2011.

Nord Stream resumes construction of the Finnish section of its natural gas pipeline, as the world´s largest pipelay vessel Solitaire is scheduled to arrive on Thursday in the Finnish EEZ from Russian waters to continue laying pipe in a westerly direction. “Solitaire will construct the majority of the Finnish section of the Nord Stream Pipeline during October 2010 and January 2011, at an average rate of approximately 2.4 kilometres a day. Construction is proceeding on schedule”, says Simon Bonnell, Nord Stream´s Task Force Manager Finland.

On board the Solitaire – operated by the Swiss company Allseas – over 400 personnel work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The vessel is 300 metres long and 41 metres wide and is dynamically-positioned so that it can operate without anchors. Solitaire uses positioning technology based on satellite navigation, allowing precise position-keeping with 10 thrusters. The benefits of using this dynamically-positioned pipelay barge are that the only contact with the seabed is the pipeline touchdown so that the interaction with the mine lines (and required munitions clearance) and associated environmental impacts are minimised. As the safety zone around the pipelay spread is 2 kilometres rather than 3 kilometres for the anchored pipelay barge the impact to other marine traffic is decreased in this heavily congested area. National monitoring programmes have been set up to monitor possible environmental impacts.

Solitaire will construct 227 of the 375 kilometres of the Finnish section of the pipeline. This vessel started laying pipe in Russian waters in the beginning of September and has so far laid approximately 120 kilometres of the pipeline. Three pipe carrier vessels will trans-ship the pipe segments to Solitaire from Kotka, where they were concrete weight coated in EUPEC´s factory, and the Hanko marshalling yard.

Safety of marine traffic taken into account

Mariners will be informed in advance of all construction-related activities (Notice to Mariners), and there will be warnings in the affected areas through the NAVTEX (Navigational Telex) system and through VHF security broadcasts. All vessels used in the Nord Stream project will follow the COLREG regulations by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to prevent vessels from colliding. Safety zones will be set up around the vessels used in the construction works. The safety zones will be closed to other traffic during the operations. The safety zone around the Solitaire is 2 kilometres.

In addition, for pipe laying within the Kalbådagrund traffic separation scheme (TSS) and the Porkkala TSS, there will be a dedicated intervention tug stationed in the area. This tug will be available to assist any vessel that may lose its capability to maneuver and lead to a potential risk to the maritime environment. The intervention tug would be available to act under the instruction of MRSC Helsinki.

Construction proceeds as planned

Already nearly 500 kilometres of the first pipeline have been constructed in Swedish, German, Russian and Finnish waters. Saipem´s Castoro Sei laid about 150 kilometres of pipe during summer and early autumn in the westernmost part of the Finnish EEZ. Both of the twin pipelines have already been constructed and pulled ashore at the Russian landfall in Portovaya Bay near Vyborg, and at the German landfall in Lubmin, near Greifswald.

Nord Stream’s twin pipelines will be 1,224 kilometres long and consist of altogether 202,000 concrete weight coated pipes, each 12 metres long and weighing approximately 23 tonnes. When both lines are completed in 2012, they will transport 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas per year – enough to meet the needs of more than 26 million European households.

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