The most complex work planned for 2020 – horizontal directional drilling (HDD) under the Neris – is about to begin as part of the Gas Interconnection Poland–Lithuania (GIPL) project being implemented by Amber Grid, which is important for both Lithuania and the gas market of the entire region. The German company LMR Drilling has been hired to perform the environmentally friendly work, which requires a high level of professional qualification.
Following the easing of lockdown restrictions on cross-border movement, a team of 37 German specialists arrived in Lithuania last week to start the HDD phase, which will take two months.
'Despite the lockdown that is still in place in Lithuania due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are continuing work on the GIPL project in accordance with the agreed deadlines, quality and scope. We have already completed 25 per cent of the work for the entire project, and we are now beginning construction of the gas pipeline under the Neris. We chose complex and professionally demanding HDD technology in order to minimise the impact on the environment,' says Amber Grid CEO Nemunas Biknius.
In preparation for the drilling, a special work site has been set up on the bank of the Neris River near Kazokiskes in Elektrenai Municipality, where the equipment brought by the Germans has already been installed. On the other side of the river at Kernave, a special pipe was welded in May, which will be drawn along the bottom of the Neris, at a depth of 20 metres.
HDD technology is used to build pipelines in hard-to-reach or urbanised areas. By drilling the gas pipeline under the Neris – and later this summer under the Nemunas as well – the riverside forest areas will remain intact, the aquatic plants and animals will not be lost, and the natural environment will be preserved without harming it.
The cross-border gas interconnection will be completed by the end of 2021. Two-thirds of the construction work is planned to be completed this year. Since January, when the project was launched, more than 100 km of steel pipes have been delivered to Lithuania from Poland, 80 km of pipes have been welded, and approximately 20 km of pipeline have been laid in the trench. Before burying the gas pipeline, all of the weld seams undergo radiographic testing to check the quality of the pipeline. Then, once the gas pipeline is buried, a hydraulic test is performed to ensure that the pipeline is properly installed.
The gas interconnection between Lithuania and Poland is not just about ensuring energy supply security. Together with the entire energy infrastructure developed in Lithuania, including the Klaipeda LNG terminal, interconnections between countries, and the opening of the Finnish gas market, the new connection will also bring economic benefits and be reflected in the price of gas.
The GIPL will make it possible to transport up to 27 TWh of gas per year to the Baltic States, and up to 21 TWh per year to Poland. Once this project is completed, the Baltic gas markets will become part of the single EU gas market.