OPAL communications wins International German PR Award

Groundbreaking community relations for Europe’s longest construction site awarded.

Wiesbaden/Kassel. With large-scale infrastructure projects, the old adage that you can only do what is communicable applies more than ever: the energy supplier WINGAS has now been awarded for its particularly successful communications for such a major project. At the international German PR Awards in Wiesbaden, the press and public relations team has been awarded for its project communication.

With this award, the jury for the International German PR Award honoured the exemplary community relations with which the German-Russian joint venture WINGAS supported the construction of OPAL, the longest land-based natural gas pipeline in Europe, on behalf of OPAL NEL TRANSPORT GmbH. The OPAL Baltic Sea pipeline link takes natural gas from the Nord Stream Baltic Sea pipeline at the German coast and transports its across a distance of 470 km through Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg and Saxony to the Czech border. With an annual capacity of 36 billion cubic metres of gas, OPAL can supply 17 million households with energy.

“WINGAS was able to set a new benchmark with its communications for the OPAL construction,” says a delighted Ulrike Saße, press spokeswoman for WINGAS. “This is because OPAL was the very first time that a German natural gas infrastructure project was comprehensively communicated at the local level and in open dialogue with all stakeholders – and for the entire pipeline length of 470 kilometres. We’re therefore absolutely delighted that the jury has honoured this approach in such a wonderful way.” OPAL’s community relations already won the PR Report Award in spring 2012.

The WINGAS team provided communications support for the construction of OPAL for more than two years: WINGAS initiated an intensive dialogue with all interest groups in the affected communities in order to explain the project and its importance and to personally answer questions from the residents and politicians. “Companies have an obligation to explain what they do and why they are doing it,” says Saße. “This dialogue and engagement have tangibly increased acceptance for the construction project and have substantially contributed to OPAL’s completion on schedule.”

The WINGAS press office relied on different channels, ranging from a newsletter and a citizen’s hotline to local information events, pipeline tours and a video diary on the Internet. These measures were supplemented with cooperation with universities and scientists from the region.

The International German PR Award is the highest and most prestigious PR industry prize in the German-speaking world.

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