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Ship works offshore in the Baltic Sea on the natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 from Russia to Germany. (Bernd Wuestneck/dpa via AP)

We continue to regularly monitor the “intrigues” related to the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, except in the political field, and in the practical field, where the fleet of ships that are considered to be able to complete the remaining unbuilt section of the pipeline has been reorganized in recent months. 160 kilometers of two pipes (about 80 km each) that make up this 1,200-kilometer-long pipeline, which, when (and if) completed, would connect the Russian and German coasts along the Baltic Sea in parallel with the already operational Nord Stream pipeline. Both have identical capacities of 55 billion m3 of gas per year.

Russian media reported today that last month the Fortuna pipe laying vessel (participated in the construction of the North Stream 2 section in Russian waters) changed hands. The previous one refused to participate in the completion of this project due to US sanctions. The Russians are now supplying Nord Stream 2 with their own fleet.

Information about the change of owner came from the Russian International List of Ships. As of October 6, the owner of Fortune is the Russian LLC company Universal Transport Group. According to sbis.ru, it was registered in Moscow six years ago, and Andrey Vladimirovich Aprelenko is the president and owner of the company.

Fortuna has been located in Murkan, Germany since October 2019, which is the logistics center for the construction of the remaining section of Nord Stream 2. The ship has been designated as one of two future participants in the completion of the pipeline, and for it the operator Nord Stream 2 AG even received a permit from the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) to use an anchored vessel, which is a barge. Together with the main Russian pipe-laying ship Aademik Chersky Fortuna, it could simultaneously carry out pipe-laying works on the remaining undeveloped section of the pipeline.

The change of shipowners who will participate in the said works started this summer. Then, in order to minimize the risk of US sanctions, the Samara STIF fund became the owner of the pipeline Akademik Chersky instead of the Gazprom fleet, as well as the supply ships Ivan Sidorenko and Ostap Sheremet.

The Polish media BiznesAlert, citing sources, wrote that the final works on the gas pipeline should start in November (that month is nearing its end!). At the same time, after naval tests and subsequent modernization, the ship Akademik Chersky returned to the German port of Murkan, together with several supply ships of the Russian “Morspasluzhba”. Yesterday, the Norwegian certification company DNV GL announced that it would stop servicing and inspecting the project vessels and their equipment due to US sanctions. However, it seems that this check has already been largely completed anyway.

However, nothing is certain yet, because, as always, politics will have the main say – and that at the highest possible level.