On August 21st, the construction of the Norwegian Polarled gas pipeline, which will bring gas from the Norwegian sea to Europe, crossed the Arctic Circle. As Statoil reports, "the 482-kilometre long and 36-inch (91.4 cm) wide pipeline will run from Nyhamna in western Norway to the Aasta Hansteen field in the Norwegian Sea. The world's largest pipelaying vessel, Solitaire from Allseas, is carrying out the job and is advancing slowly, exactly 24.4 metres at a time, every sixth minute or so, around the clock". "Polarled will open up for gas export to Europe from a completely new gas province, and with the infrastructure in place it will also be more attractive to explore the surrounding area" Håkon Ivarjord, Statoil's project venture manager for the Polarled development project said.
Polarled is expected to reach the Aasta Hansteen field by September, if weather permits. The weather conditions during the summer were overall good, allowing the construction to proceed constantly, although with few "welcomed" interruptions. "Laying several hundred kilometres almost without weather interruptions is very unusual. It is good to have a break to perform necessary maintenance on the pipelaying equipment, and not least to give the crew a welcome break before completing the pipelaying in 1260 metres of water," commented Arne Fosse.
Polarled will also be the deepest pipeline on the Norwegian continental shelf – by the Aasta Hansteen field the water depth is 1260 metres. Furthermore, it will be the first time a 36-inch wide pipe is laid in such deep waters anywhere in the world.
The project is proceeding very well also under a finacial perspective. Indeed, it is currently expected to deliver the pipeline way below budget. "The original investment budget for the pipeline project was NOK 11.1 billion" mr. Øijord commented, "We are now expecting an investment level of around NOK 7.5 billion, due to good planning, good market knowledge and good execution. We have also had favourable market conditions with regard to capacity and price."