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OPAL communication receives award Award presented to WINGAS by PR Report Awards for communication relating to Europe’s longest construction site

PR Report Awards Issue Management Team OPAL 2 21012
Kassel/Berlin, 20.04.2012 – An increasing number of key infrastructure projects in Germany are facing the prospect of failure due to a lack of acceptance. The press office of energy supplier WINGAS has received an award for the team’s particularly positive example of successful communication for a major project. At this year’s PR Report Awards in Berlin, the press office team received the award for the best Community Communication (PMG Award) for their project communication.

The renowned industry competition praised WINGAS, a German-Russian joint venture, for its comprehensive dialogue communication during the construction of the OPAL, the longest natural gas pipeline in Europe. The OPAL (Ostsee Pipeline Anbindungsleitung – Baltic Sea pipeline link) picks up natural gas from the Nord Stream Baltic Sea pipeline on the German coast and transports it 470 kilometres through Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg and Saxony to the Czech border. With an annual capacity of 36 billion cubic metres of gas, the OPAL pipeline will supply energy to approximately 17 million households.

“Never before has a natural gas infrastructure project communicated to such an extent locally in Germany as with the OPAL project – and this was achieved along the entire length of the 470 kilometres of pipeline,” says Michael Sasse, Head of Press and Public Relations at Wintershall and Gazprom subsidiary WINGAS GmbH & Co. KG. “We are really pleased that this achievement has been praised by the jury of the PR Report Awards through this award for WINGAS.”

For two years the WINGAS team provided communication to accompany the construction of the OPAL. WINGAS entered into intensive dialogue with all interest groups in the affected communities to explain about the project and its importance. It also personally answered questions from residents. “People living within the area of the new pipeline have a right to personal, direct and comprehensive information,” explains Sasse. “We have lived up to our promise. This also played a role in enabling us to complete a construction project of this magnitude on schedule.” 

The WINGAS press office used numerous channels to ensure that politicians and residents were always kept informed of current developments and that the press office was continuously available to them. This was accomplished through newsletters, a hotline for residents, various information events on location, pipeline visits for the press and even tours of comparable existing sites as well as an internet video diary. 

These communication initiatives were accompanied by an agenda-setting programme which highlighted important topics in cooperation with local partners. For example, close cooperation with local universities resulted in surprising archaeological discoveries and scientific findings. The pipeline construction project has also enabled connection points to high-speed broadband Internet in the region. Parallel to laying the pipeline, WINGAS also laid fibre optic cables.

This is the tenth year that the PR Report Awards were presented. They are awarded to the most successful individuals and projects in the PR industry and are selected by a jury of 23 experts. This year there were 330 entries in 22 categories.

WINGAS is a joint venture of Wintershall, Germany’s largest producer of crude oil and natural gas, and Russia’s OAO Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas producer. Since 1993 WINGAS has been contributing towards securing Europe’s natural gas supply.

WINGAS is one of the largest suppliers of natural gas in Germany. The energy company is active in natural gas trading across Europe – in Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Austria, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. Its customers include municipal utilities, regional gas suppliers, industrial firms and power stations. WINGAS companies also market transport and storage capacities, as well as fibre-optic capacities for telecommunications.