"Fresh data for geological map material along the OPAL"
Pipeline construction project is unique opportunity for geologists and engineers
Kassel/Greifswald/Berlin/Freiberg. Three tertiary institutions in total are now benefiting from the construction of the OPAL natural gas pipeline: alongside Berlin and Freiberg, the University of Greifswald has now also entered into a cooperation agreement with WINGAS, allowing for scientific support of the OPAL construction work. Today, Dr. Wolfgang Flieger, chancellor of the Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, Prof. Reinhard Lampe from the Institute of Geography and Geology, Hans-Georg Egelkamp, WINGAS' OPAL project manager, and Route Engineer Holger Illian signed the corresponding contract. WINGAS is thus allowing academic staff from the University of Greifswald to take soil samples all along the natural gas pipeline route in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and to document the pipe trench photographically. The company is also providing financial support for this research work, conducted by Dr. Sebastian Lorenz, academic staff at the University of Greifswald's Institute of Geography and Geology, and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's State Geological Service under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Ralf-Otto Niedermeyer. The contract parties are thus also putting in writing the cooperation which has already been underway since the beginning of excavation work. "We work hand-in-hand," explains Project Manager Egelkamp happily, "which is particularly important in order for construction work to progress smoothly."
While it was previously only possible for spot inspections to be made in individual boreholes, the geologists can now document a continuous North-South profile in the pipeline trench through the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Prof. Reinhard Lampe expects this to lead to a scientific breakthrough, saying that the existing map material is twenty to forty years old and needs to be continually revised. This will now be realized by means of the new findings: "We can now already say that the maps of the state must be redrawn, section by section."
Researchers in the field of exploration geology at the Technical University of Berlin have already entered into a similar cooperation agreement with WINGAS as well. Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Dominik and academic staff member Dr. Olaf Juschus have been on the trail of the residues from the Quarternary, the last ice age, since the start of construction work in Brandenburg. Hans-Georg Egelkamp welcomes the involvement of these exploration geologists: "Dr. Juschus is Brandenburg's leading Quarternary expert. He is working very enthusiastically in view of the opportunity to study the entirety of the three-meter-deep OPAL trench in this state."
The up-and-coming engineers at Bergakademie Freiberg showed great interest in the construction work itself. A cooperation agreement with this technical university in Saxony has also been in place since last year. So far, two work excursions and several presentations have been realized in this context. "The dimensions of the project and the construction-related challenges offer the students a unique chance to expand on learnt theoretical knowledge with career-relevant practical experience," says Prof. Bernd Meyer, rector of the renowned institution. According to Hans-Georg Egelkamp, this concept is working out very well: "We are experiencing a rush of students addressing the construction work intensively, sometimes also in working papers." In summer, the engineers expect visitors from Canada, as exchange students from Alberta will then visit the site together with their fellow students from Freiberg.
The OPAL runs eastward from Lubmin, past Berlin, and crosses the German-Czech border in the Erz Mountains. Over its full length, the OPAL pipeline overcomes a height difference of 700 meters and crosses the River Peene in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the River Elbe in Saxony, the A12 highway east of Berlin and the A4 highway between Chemnitz and Dresden, among other feats. The 470-kilometer-long pipeline comprises many individual pipes, each of which is 18 meters long and weighs 15 tonnes. WINGAS is constructing the natural gas pipeline OPAL together with E.ON Ruhrgas AG, which holds a 20-percent stake in OPAL. Network operation of the connection line will be realized by OPAL NEL TRANSPORT GmbH. This company is part of the WINGAS Group.
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. The company plans to connect the OPAL to the WINGAS TRANSPORT gas pipeline network. www.opal-pipeline.de