Commercial supply of gas has started through the second branch of the Russian-German Nord-Stream pipeline.
The gas valve from Portovaya Compressor Station's operational center was opened on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, an Interfax correspondent at the launch ceremony reported.
However, the launch of the second branch will not increase total gas supply via Nord Stream to Europe as it will accept a portion of the gas already transported through the first branch, European gas players told Interfax.
The Nord Stream gas pipeline, which was launched 11 months ago, still transported gas under older contracts transferred from Ukrainian transit. The gas pipeline will start moving new gas in November, a source in the gas sector told Interfax.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking through a video conference, said that Nord Stream will "supply gas directly via the shortest route by connecting the biggest Russian gas fields with European markets without transit risk, consistently and without interruption. We guarantee this."
The Managing Director of Nord Stream AG, Mathias Warnig, said that the company has implemented the extensive infrastructure project on time and within the parameters of the budget. "Among the other European gas transport projects, Nord Stream is categorically a phenomenal achievement and a new benchmark in all aspects - design, construction, environmental and technical safety, as well as operations," he said.
"The International Energy Agency (IEA) has talked about the 'golden age of gas'. Natural gas is relatively cheaper and much cleaner than of other types of fossil fuels. While we still look for widely-extensive solutions using renewable energy sources, gas remains the most preferred type of fuel," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at launch ceremony.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Nord Stream has vividly demonstrated that the state and private business can, even on a transnational level, be on equal terms and work effectively and productively.
Gas transport to Europe through Nord Stream's first branch (capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters) commenced in November 2011.
The launch of Nord Stream's second branch took place 30 months after the start of construction. With the commission of the second branch, the trunk gas pipeline can now supply up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas for at least 50 years.
Portovaya Compressor Station, where the launch ceremony for the second branch was held, can create up to 220 bar in pressure, which is sufficient to transport gas without intermediary compression stations for 1,224 kilometers along the bottom of Baltic Sea before reaching the European gas transportation network in the town of Lubmin on the Baltic Coast of Germany.
Nord Stream directly connects Russia and the European Union via the Baltic Sea. Imports of gas to the EU in 2009 came to around 312 billion cubic meters and are expected to rise to 523 billion cubic meters by 2030. According to the IEA stats, EU demand for gas imports will grow by 211 billion cubic meters a year. Nord Stream, which connects the world's biggest gas fields with the European gas distribution network, can cover over one fourth of EU demand for additional gas imports.
Nord Stream AG is an international consortium, in which Gazprom owns 51 percent, German companies BASF SE/Wintershall Holding GmbH and E.ON Ruhrgas AG - each with 15.5 percent, Dutch company Gasunie and France\'s GDF SUEZ - each with 9 percent.
The Nord Stream project has been designated as part of Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-Е).
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