Allseas has begun work on the massive TurkStream gas project in the Black Sea, with chief executive Edward Heerema joining Russian President Vladimir Putin on board the Pioneering Spirit to kick off operations.

Putin launched the alignment of the shallow- and deep-water sections with the twin-hulled construction, decommissioning and pipelay vessel, with Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller also there to witness proceedings.

The Russian leader was also given a tour of the giant vessel, which left Rotterdam in mid-May to head for the Black Sea for the contract at the Gazprom-led project.

The vessel owner recently installed the pipelay stinger and stinger transition frame (STF) in the bow slot of Pioneering Spirit for the job, as well as a follow-up contract for Gazprom.

Gazprom boss Miller said recently that the twin-leg pipeline is on schedule to bring gas to customers in Turkey and Europe before end of 2019.

Under Gazprom’s plan, each leg of TurkStream will be capable of delivering up to 15.75 billion cubic metres of gas per year – or 31.5 Bcm per annum in total.

Gazprom recently started construction on the shallow-water section of TurkStream. The job to bring the pipeline from the shore into the shallow-water zone in the Russian sector of the Black Sea will be carried out by the Allseas’ Audacia pipelay vessel.

After the TurkStream installations, the Pioneering Spirit will shift to its other Gazprom contract, the installation of the1200-kilometre Nord Stream 2 pipeline across the Baltic Sea, from north-western Russia to northern Germany.