By Murat Temizer
The world's largest
With the Turkish and Russian presidents doing the honors, the last offshore section of this landmark natural gas pipeline was put into place on Nov. 19.
"The TurkStream natural gas pipeline project will be ready to operate in 2019 after tests are carried out," Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, said at a ceremony in Istanbul marking the completion of TurkStream’s offshore section.
Allseas, the company that owns the ship, aimed at having the most technologically advanced construction vessel in the world, the Pioneering Spirit, which is not only designed for pipe laying but also for the installation and decommissioning of oil and gas platforms.
During the pipe laying of the two lines of the
The vessel laid 6.27 km (app. 3.9 miles) of pipes in one day on Aug. 26, a new world record that by far surpassed the daily average record of four km.
Construction of the offshore section of the project commenced in May in the Black Sea near the Russian coast.
The Audacia vessel, also owned by Allseas, -- which undertook the construction for both strings of the gas pipeline's offshore section -- carried out the pipe laying while the Pioneering Spirit initiated the project's deep sub-sea water construction.
The Pioneering Spirit has a maximum speed of 14 knots, can accommodate 571 employees at any given time, has 288 cabins, 13 floors, and an installed power capacity of 95,000 kilowatts.
The vessel's dimensions reflect its singularity as its size corresponds to that of six Boeing 747s while having the ability to lift the equivalent of 2.5 Eiffel Towers at the same time.
As befitting such a colossal vessel, even in the event of massive waves, the vessel remains stable in laying pipes one at a time every eight minutes.
The vessel, of which its construction started in 2012, is among a fleet of other Allseas enormous vessels including the Solitaire, Audacia
However, it is not all work and no play as the crew from over 40 countries has recreational areas with PlayStation, television screens and facilities for various activities, such as ping-pong and foosball.
The catering crew serves between 1,500 and 2,000 meals daily on board, while 250 kilograms of rice and 11,000 eggs are consumed per week.
The majority of the fruit and vegetables, milk and canned goods are supplied from Turkey.
During the pipe laying work, the captain expertly navigated the vessel to avoid the newly discovered aircraft wrecks and archeological pieces of interest on the seabed while ensuring that no undue delays were made in their work.
The Pioneering Spirit made its debut offshore mission in August 2016 with the removal of a mobile production platform from Norwegian waters.
The TurkStream pipeline is the vessel's maiden pipe laying project. It commenced deep-water pipe laying operations in late June 2017 and has been working exclusively for the
The pipeline's second string will transfer gas to Europe via Turkey. Discussion between Gazprom and Bulgaria and Greece are ongoing to determine the destination point for the second line.
The project, with a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters, is enough to meet the energy needs of 15 million households.
The Swiss-based Allseas Group has executed nearly 300 projects worldwide, installing more than 21,500 km of subsea pipeline in water depths ranging from five meters to 2,730 meters.