Allseas kaput? Or time to finish?

Allseas капут? Или успеют достроить?

The United States has included sanctions against the pipeline “Nord stream-2” project the defense budget (NDAA) for 2020. In NAK “Naftogaz of Ukraine” celebrating the victory and predict that “Nord stream-2” is stopped. Not a fact. It all depends on the agility of the Swiss marine contractor Allseas Group SA, which in 2016 contracted by “Gazprom” for laying the underwater pipeline “Turkish stream” and “Nord stream-2”. In fact, he is the main target of the sanctions.

After the publication of the text of the bill it will be clear what kind of sanctions imposed on companies that supply technology and vehicles for the construction of Russian sea energy pipelines. From this moment begins the countdown to the releasing mechanism for the punishment of violators of the law.

Within 60 days the U.S. Department of state will have to make a list of the companies, which will affect sanctions. They will be given 30 days to terminate their participation in the project. Today, when the major work is almost complete, and funding has long been cultivated, the losses may be incurred only German and Italian companies-contractors of the project.

This relates primarily to specialist companies, which with the help of ships-pipelayers lay pipe across the Baltic sea: the Swiss Allseas Group and Italy’s Saipem (a subsidiary of Italian energy company Eni, is the author).

In Saipem sanctions are treated with some scepticism, believing that the document in its current form does not apply to current contractual obligations of the company to the project. In principle, they did my job and may have to exit the process. They can replace the Russian pipe-laying barge “Fortuna”, which in October came in the German port of Mukran, where shipped the pipe to the “Nord stream-2”. And now he is sitting there “in ambush”, waiting for the command “start!”.

“Fortuna” was engaged in laying a 13-km coastal section of the pipeline in Russia. Its technical parameters, the barge is capable of working Danish station in the area where the sea depth does not exceed 100 meters (at the “Fortune” limit reach 200 meters).
But the alternative, Allseas has no not only in Russia but throughout the world. The largest vessel the company’s Pionieering Spirit is almost 500 meters in length – able to lay pipe at depths of up to four kilometers and has time to put on the bottom of about five kilometers of pipes per day. Think faster than him to do such a job today is not capable of any other ship.

Without the courts Allseas project it would be technically impossible to implement. And no contracts with “Gazprom” Allseas Group SA would be unable to swing even more than the Pionieering Spirit version of the ship of the same design – Amazing Grace. Allseas plans to build this miracle of technology by 2023. When you get all the money for the “Turkish stream” and “Nord stream-2” money.

For reference. Allseas Group SA Swiss marine contractor specializing in laying underwater pipelines, installation and dismantling of offshore platforms and underwater construction.

The company was founded in January 1985 by Edward Heerema, son of Peter Shelte Heerema, the founder of the Dutch construction company Heerema Marine Contractors, and started with the conversion of purchased in the same year the old ship “Natalie Bolten” in the world’s first pipelay vessel equipped with dynamic positioning system.

In the late eighties – early nineties of the last century Allseas has established itself as a major player in the North sea and the Gulf of Mexico. In 1992, the company acquired built in the early seventies the bulk carrier “Trentwood” for alteration in the world’s largest pipelay vessel.

In 1997 a new pipe-layer was named Solitaire, and in 1998 he made his first pipe at the Europipe II project of Statoil. In 2005, power Solitaire was increased to the holding force 1,050 tons, allowing the ship to lay heavy pipelines to unprecedented depths.

The last ship Allseas, designed for laying pipes and assembling/disassembling of offshore platforms – Pioneering Spirit was put into operation in August 2016, and during his first ascent August 22, 2016 set a world record by lifting with shelf mobile offshore platform, weighing 13,500 tons.

Was originally to be called the ship Pieter Schelte, after his father of Allseas owner Edward Heerema. However, with the outbreak of the scandal over Nazi past Peter Selte his son had to abandon his plans to perpetuate his father’s memory and to name the ship other neutral name.

While there was running a new vessel, in “Gazprom” finished plan “Turkish stream”. Were complex negotiations with Turkey. Relations between the two countries recovered slowly after the destruction of 26 November 2015, Russian “su-24” Turkish air force, Russia stopped work on “Turkish stream,” but in the summer of 2016, the parties expressed readiness to resume the project.
From that moment began the search for a contractor that can work at extreme depths and with maximum speed to make up time lost because of the conflict. Alternatives to the Swiss company, which had not the best times in connection with the scandal around Peter Selte, was not found.

And 8 December 2016 Allseas has received from “Gazprom” an offer that could not refuse: to lay on the seabed of more than 900 km of pipe forces their ships Audacia and Pioneering Spirit. Mutually beneficial collaboration began. And immediately expanded: the very next day, December 9, 2016, the subsidiary of Gazprom – Nord Stream AG 2 reported that Allseas have won the tender for the laying of the first offshore leg of the pipeline “Nord stream-2”.

22 February 2017 between 2 AG Nord Stream and Allseas was awarded the contract for the provision of facilities for laying already both lines of the pipeline “Nord stream-2” (as they say, to not double-up) using three of the six pipelaying vessels, the company Pioneering Spirit, Solitaire and Audacia. Pioneering Spirit joined work immediately after cope with the problems in the Black sea.

During the three years of cooperation with “Gazprom”, the Swiss company has earned a good idea, to put it mildly. And became famous, demonstrating a phenomenal ability to lay pipelines so quickly and at such a depth. So the bonus to the Russian money, for it was global advertising.

And now, when 90 percent of the work has been completed and left to pave a couple hundred kilometers of pipes States impose sanctions that purposefully hit Pionieering Spirit and Solitaire. The question is, who has time before these two ships to put the last section of pipe, or the sanctions that will come into force next year?

The first mathematical calculations show that if the formula is 60+30 (60 days to finalize the list and 30 days to completion) sanctions begin not earlier than March next year.

By this time, according to the plans of “Gazprom”, the Allseas ships should be already on the way to their home ports, and the owner of the company to calculate the profit from stacking the two branches of the “Nord stream-2” and one “Turkish”. It all depends on how quickly pioneer work Pionieering Spirit.

Egor Smirnov

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