Monday, December 10, 2007

Natural Gas Piped to the U.K.

Because of its relatively small land mass and few deposits, the United Kingdom, more than other European companies, imports an inordinate amount of its natural gas from neighboring countries so that its population can comfortably heat their homes and power industries. The “neighbor” the United Kingdom reached an amiable trade agreement with just happened to be, not just across the pond, but, in fact, under the sea. The U.K. will be getting a large share of its natural gas from Norway, many miles across the frigid Baltic Sea.

This engineering marvel was quite an undertaking by the Norwegian oil company, Norsk Hydro. Their hopes were to connect their massive discovery, the Ormen Lange undersea gas field, to oil processing and refining plants in Britain. The pipeline, at its completion, would hope to carry 20% of Britain’s necessary gas supplies each year, and provide a stable, reliable supply for at least the next 40 years. Construction proved to be an enormous endeavor. The need to work, in some areas, at over a mile beneath the sea’s chilly, windswept surface, called for cutting edge technology. One of the advanced techniques employed because of the ruggedness of the ocean floor involved two remote control robots. These robots performed the necessary excavation duties in order to prepare the ocean floor for the piping. Deep, dark, and chilly, of course, but let’s not forget that at the deepest part, 2953 feet beneath the surface, the water pressure, exceeding 1500 psi would crush a human skull. Of course divers in a mini-sub or bell could do the job, but why waste the energy when there are remote controlled robots about? The enormous lengths of pipes were of course assembled above the surface. This required two of the world’s largest pipe-laying ships, working in tandem, assembling pipes and continuously laying them on the ocean floor.

Norsk Hydro obviously felt the risk and exertion of mind power and bank accounts was well worth it because the pipeline opened in 2006, and has been pumping its crude between Norway and the U.K. since then. The length of the pipeline is 746 miles in its entirety, and was assembled in two great sections. The cost of the project was 3.3 billion dollars and received financial backing from several companies, including Centrica, Statoil, Norsk Hydro, Royal Dutch Shell, and Conoco Phillips. The total annual capacity of the Langeled Pipeline is around 70 billion cubic feet of natural gas, supplying a fifth of Britain’s need.

About the Author: Robert Jent is the president of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

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