Winter first with pipelaying
Delays with the Europipe II gas trunkline are to be recovered this winter - the first time Statoil has laid pipe outside the summer season.
A second laybarge, Castoro Sei, has been hired by the group to supplement the original vessel, Solitaire. The new unit is due to start work with Europipe II in late November.
Statoil is also considering the introduction of a third laybarge. A decision on this will be taken in mid-December, reports project manager Roar Ståle Larsen.
A special team in the Europipe II project organisation has reviewed the differences between pipelaying in winter and summer. Loading and unloading line pipe, anchorhandling and icing of pipes in sub-zero temperatures are critical factors, Mr Larsen notes.
"We're focusing special attention on these aspects in order to ensure safe operation," he reports. "Working conditions are also tougher compared with the summer."
However, the laybarges are designed for year-round working.
Installation of Europipe II is behind schedule because Solitaire lost the line on two occasions in the Danish North Sea. This vessel has so far laid 43 kilometres of the 625-kilometre line.
The line lost in late September was recently retrieved, and Solitaire is due to resume laying within the next few days. Another 10 kilometres of line will be laid southwards in the Danish sector.
After that, the vessel will proceed to Bokn north of Stavanger to lay the section of Europipe II which will cross the deepwater Norwegian Trench - running parallel with the coast - to the starting point for the new line off Denmark.
Castoro Sei will continue laying south to the German coast near Emden from the point in the Danish North Sea reached by Solitaire.
Europipe II is due to begin operation on 1 October 1999.