Setting sail for a secure energy supply

WINGAS employees sail the course of Nord Stream | Crew brings first kilowatt hour of natural gas across the Baltic Sea | (B)logbook at www.wingas-segeltour.de

Vyborg/Greifswald. The laying of the Nord Stream Baltic Sea Pipeline and its connecting pipeline in Germany, OPAL, is proceeding at full speed. Reason enough for a group of sport enthusiasts at WINGAS to draw attention to these major projects with an unusual mission: a sailing tour which follows the future course of the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany. Their goal: to bring the first kilowatt hour of Russian natural gas across the Baltic Sea to Western Europe before the Nord Stream is brought on stream. The crew of eight from WINGAS officially accepts a filled gas cartridge (photo) from representatives of Gazprom Export LLC at the starting point of the Nord Stream pipeline in Vyborg, Russia. The crew on board the sports yacht "Phantasie" ('Fantasy') sets off on their unusual sailing trip from the port of Vyborg to the south-west accompanied by the sound of Russian sea shanties. On the way to Greifswald they will drop anchor in ports in Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Then, after having covered 820 nautical miles (around 1600 kilometers), two weeks later, on 12 June, the "Phantasie" will run into port in Greifswald accompanied by historical sailing boats. Mecklenburg-West Pomerania's Minister-President Erwin Sellering will then accept the gas cartridge in an official ceremony.

"At first it was just a crazy idea among colleagues," Tom Amery, passionate sailor and Managing Director of WINGAS Belgium, recalls. But then the 42-year-old Belgian quickly garnered enthusiastic support from other WINGAS staff. "The sailing tour along the future Nord Stream route highlights in an unusual but pleasant way that the most reliable transit land is the Baltic Sea - especially for pipelines," Amery explains. In the next 14 days he will be skipper of the "Phantasie", steering it through the Baltic Sea. "At the same time, the project symbolizes the understanding and cooperation among the various Baltic Sea countries, both of which have a long tradition in the Baltic Sea region."

The Nord Stream pipeline is not only considered the most reliable transport alternative for natural gas from Russia; but also the most environmentally friendly. Since fewer compressor stations are required than for a supply route over land, the CO2 emissions generated during transportation of natural gas through the Baltic Sea are comparatively low. "This is something else underlined by the WINGAS sailing tour, which will bring the first kilowatt hour of Russian natural gas to Germany in perfect harmony with nature," Amery explains. The WINGAS sailing crew sees itself as "the vanguard" of a reliable future supply of Russian natural gas for Europe via the Baltic Sea.  

The Nord Stream pipeline will connect the consumers in Western Europe directly to the world's largest natural gas reserves in Russia, thus making a key contribution to long-term energy security in Europe. From 2011, initially 27.5 billion cubic meters of gas can be transported through Nord Stream, and then from 2012 up to 55 billion cubic meters a year. This volume equals the capacity of 55 coal-fired power plants or 20 new nuclear power plants.

The natural gas will be transported from the natural gas transfer station in Lubmin near Greifswald to onward destinations via two connecting pipelines: the OPAL pipeline will run from the Baltic Sea coast through Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Brandenburg and Saxony to the Czech Republic. Construction work for OPAL is already well underway and up to 2,500 workers will be laying the pipes and building the compressor stations until the planned date of commissioning in October 2011. In addition to the OPAL pipeline, WINGAS is planning to lay another connecting pipeline to the West: the NEL (Norddeutsche Erdgasleitung - North German Gas Link) will run from where the Nord Stream pipeline comes on land passing by Schwerin and Hamburg until it reaches the natural gas storage facility in Rehden in Lower Saxony.

Note to the media: Current film and photo material of the start of the sailing tour is available from the WINGAS Press Office.  

While at sea the crew will report on its experiences on board in an open (B)logbook at www.wingas-segeltour.de.

European energy provider WINGAS GmbH Co. KG is active in natural gas trading and distribution in Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Austria, the Czech Republic and Denmark. Its customers include municipal utilities, regional gas suppliers, industrial firms and power plants. Since 1990 WINGAS has invested more than 3 billion Euros in the development of a natural gas transport and storage infrastructure. WINGAS TRANSPORT pipeline network, which is over 2,000 kilometers long, connects the major gas reserves in Siberia and in the North Sea to the growing markets in Western Europe. In Rehden in North Germany, WINGAS has the largest natural gas storage facility in Western Europe – with a working gas volume of over four billion cubic meters, and the company also participates in Central Europe's second largest storage facility in Haidach, Austria. Additional natural gas storage facilities are currently being built in Great Britain and Germany in order to secure the supply of natural gas in Europe.

OPAL NEL TRANSPORT GmbH will perform the tasks of network operator for the OPAL. It is part of the WINGAS Group, which, in addition to natural gas supplier WINGAS, includes WINGAS TRANSPORT. WINGAS TRANSPORT operates a gas pipeline network which is more than 2,000 km long and covers the whole of Germany. The company plans to connect the OPAL to the WINGAS TRANSPORT gas pipeline network.

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