6 september 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, on a working visit to Vyborg, initiates the flow of gas into the underwater section of Nord Stream

Vladimir Putin called Nord Stream "an excellent project realised by a large international team."

The first gas has been pumped into the pipeline at the Portovaya pumping station located on the Russian-Finnish border. The specialist on duty welcomed the prime minister and invited him to take his seat at the computer. Vladimir Putin used the mouse to click on the computer screen button to start the mechanism that feeds gas into the pipeline.

The Portovaya pumping station is located at the junction of the Gryazovets-Vyborg pipeline and Nord Stream. After the last seam was welded on August 19, the pipeline was filled with nitrogen that acts as buffer between air and gas. Today natural gas was fed into the pipeline to push the buffer gas into a secure area where it will be bled off. After that natural gas will be pumped in and the pipeline pressurised.

Pipeline operation will commence when the pressure reaches the minimum required level in Germany, expected in October, starting the supply of natural gas to Europe.

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After launching the supply of gas to the Nord Stream undersea section, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin talked to journalists in the presence of one of the project managers, former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and the head of Gazprom, Alexei Miller.

Transcript of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: We have constructed 1,244 km in less than 1.3 years. And we have already constructed 640 km of the second line, which accounts for more than half of it. The project was carried out under varying conditions, relating to both climate and finance. Nevertheless, world banks have granted three billion euros worth of loans, and shareholders, including the world’s largest banks, provided the rest of the money. Germany may be interested in the fact that the amount of gas that will be supplied is comparable to the energy produced by 11 nuclear power stations.

The Nord Stream team is quite small: just 160 people representing 23 countries. This is indeed a big international team, comprising large German, Russian, Netherlandian and French companies. This is an excellent project. Gas will be supplied to Germany, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Denmark. And incidentally, almost 100 billion euros have been spent on environmental research. Almost 13 million euros went just towards a constant monitoring system. Sixteen parameters are being constantly measured at thousands of points along the route, and quarterly reports are submitted to Russian, German, Swedish, Finnish and Danish environmental organisations.

I would like to thank our German, Swedish, Finnish and Danish colleagues for their support. Now we have to wait until technical gas fills the pipeline, and we can start the project in November. President Dmitry Medvedev is expected to visit Germany, so he and the Chancellor can receive this gas together.

Question: Is transit through Ukraine no longer relevant?

Vladimir Putin: Ukraine has been our longtime, traditional partner. As with any transit country, they have the temptation to benefit from their position. Now this exclusivity is disappearing, and I believe that our relations will take on a more civilised character.