A 215 tonne underwater structure from Norwegian Randaberg Industries will help secure Norwegian gas to Denmark and Poland, and will be lowered to the seabed in Denmark in December. From next year, the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline will be in operation.
Danske Energinet reports that the giant structure is now being tested in Stavanger. In December, it will be lowered to a depth of 40 meters on the seabed around 105 kilometers off Denmark’s west coast.
The PLEM structure stands for Pipeline End Manifold, and will connect the new Baltic Pipe gas pipe to Norwegian Europipe II. This will help Norwegian gas to fly to Denmark and on to Poland from October 2022.
– It is fascinating to see the PLEM develop from drawings to reality and see how big the structure is, says Mark Christian Degn Eskesen in a fusion.
Eskesen is technically responsible for the connection of the Baltic Pipe to the Norwegian pipe system.
Norwegian Randaberg Industries delivers the structure, which is 19 meters long, 12.5 meters wide and 3.5 meters high, and weighs 215 tonnes. The connection to Europipe II is carried out in collaboration with Gassco, which operates the Norwegian gas pipeline system, and their technical service providers Equinor and Subsea 7.
The total cost of the Baltic Pipe pipe has been intended for between 12 and 16 billion Danish kroner, but Energinet has previously reported cost overruns on the Danish part of the pipe. The Baltic Pipe will be able to carry ten billion cubic meters of gas a year, and a new gas source will be able to help increase security of supply in Poland.
Security of supply becomes an important issue during periods of high energy prices. Lately, gas prices in Europe have been sky-high, due to little gas in stock, strong competition for global shiploads of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and low supply from Russia. This puts consumers under pressure, and has led to large gas users such as Yara shutting down production.
From Norway to Denmark, Poland, the Baltics and Finland: Here come the new gas pipes
Plan Europipe for connection
Europipe II is a 658 kilometer long gas pipeline from Kårstø in Rogaland to Dornum in Germany, and came into operation in 1999, according to Equinor. From the beginning, the pipe was equipped with a T-piece and two valves, so that Danes could connect, Energinet informs.
For next year, this will happen. Once the PLEM structure is in place on the seabed, the contractor must measure what the pipe sections that connect them to the structures together should look like, to ensure that they fit best, according to Energinet.
The actual connection must be made by divers.
This summer, there were reports that the gas pipe could threaten rodents, bats and two snail species, and the work was therefore stopped. Since then, there have been reports of sharing the work could start again while Energinet is working to secure a new environmental permit for the project. There have also been demonstrations against the project.
Rodents and bats stop billions of gas pipes from Norway
– Monster structure
– It is a monster structure, Eskesen said according to one fusion last year.
– When the Baltic Pipe is in operation, the gas will just flow through it, but it is necessary to handle the start-up of the operation and various operations, he said.
Among other things, the PLEM structure is important for inspections. It is important to be able to send “pigs” (PIGs) through gas pipes to inspect them. One PIG is an abbreviation for «pipeline inspection gauge», ie inspection equipment.
The so-called pigs are sent through the pipes to check whether it is bulky or weak in them that needs to be repaired. There are “stupid pigs” who clean the pipes, and “intelligent pigs” who are equipped with more sophisticated measuring equipment.
The pigs transmit via a PLR, or “pig launcher receiver”, which is now being tested before it is to be installed on the seabed and connected to the PLEM structure. This is to happen with the vessel Seven Oceanic in December.
– I would be reluctant to be in a situation on board the vessel and find that the Pig Launcher Receiver and PLEM do not fit together, Eskesen says.
Should there be damage to the pipe from Europipe II inland to Denmark, which is called the «EPII Branch Pipeline, it is possible to shut down gas transport.