TurkStream’s first line reaches Turkey’s Black Sea coast
Russia's Gazprom said Monday it completed the sea portion of the first line of the TurkStream offshore gas pipeline across the Black Sea and reached Turkey's coastline.
Gazprom, which plans to complete the pipeline in 2019, said in a statement that 1,161 kilometers (721 miles) of pipe have been laid since it began construction last year, equaling 62 percent of the total pipe length in the project.
The receiving terminal at Kıyıköy on the Black Sea coast of Turkey's northwestern Thrace region is under construction, the statement said, adding that when the terminal is completed, the first line will be fully complete.
Gazprom President Alexey Miller said that TurkStream is being successfully brought to life and an important hurdle has been overtaken with the completion of the first line. "TurkStream will indisputably contribute to the energy security of Turkey and Europe," he said.
The second line, designed to ship gas to southern European countries such as Greece, Bulgaria and Italy, will be laid in the third quarter of 2018, the company said. Both lines have an annual capacity to carry 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas. The total cost of the project is estimated at $7 billion.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said earlier this month that Turkey's approval for Gazprom's onshore portion of the TurkStream pipeline's second line was still pending. TurkStream spokesperson Sander van Rootselaar said that 224 kilometers (139 miles) of the second line have been laid, up until Turkey's exclusive economic zone, and all approvals for the second line have been obtained.
The pipeline construction on land will be carried out by the Petroleum Pipeline Company (BOTAŞ), and the environmental impact assessment process is currently ongoing, van Rootselaar said. He added that the land construction in Russia will also be terminated before December 2019 and the gas flow will begin after that date.
Moscow, which relies on oil and gas revenue, sees new pipelines to Turkey and Germany – TurkStream and Nord Stream 2 – as crucial to increasing its market share in Europe.
The world's largest offshore construction vessel, the Pioneering Spirit, owned by Swiss company Allseas, carried out the construction. The ship reached Turkey's shores after a 10-month trip with a crew of 562 people from 40 countries.
The official Anadolu Agency's energy editorial team paid a visit to the 382-meter-long and 124-meter-wide vessel as it reached Kıyıköy. Captain Loek Fernengel explained that the vessel was constructed in South Korea as two main blocks and welded together in 2013. It undertook its first high seas operation in August 2016 off Norway, carrying a 13,500 ton oil platform. The vessel is equipped with cranes that are able to carry 48,000 tons of weight in a single lift, which is equal to the weight of two and a half Eiffel Towers.
The vessel laid a record 5.7 kilometers of pipes in a single day in February, enabling the fast construction of the pipeline at depths reaching 2,200 meters. Fernengel stated that more than 74,000 welds have been made in the project at a margin of error of only 0.63 percent.
"So far we have had a very successful process both in terms of our production rate and safety, and quality. We continued working despite 7-8 meter-high waves in a storm about a month ago. It damaged the ship but the production did not cease. We came across plane wrecks and other archaeological sites during pipe laying work. Each time, we set a new route, but we reached our goal on time; there wasn't any postponement," Fernengel said.
"Now we have completed this duty, and we will go to Rotterdam from here. There, within 10 days we will transform the vessel from pipe laying setup to platform assembly setup. Then we will take to the road to set up a 22,000-ton oil platform at the continental shelf of Norway. We will return to the Black Sea in the third quarter of 2018 to complete the second line of TurkStream," he added.