New gas link inaugurated
The NorFra gas transport system, which ranks as the world's longest submarine pipeline, is officially inaugurated today.
French prime minister Lionel Jospin and his Norwegian counterpart, Kjell Magne Bondevik, are attending the ceremony at the receiving terminal in France's northern port of Dunkerque.
The 840-kilometre Statoil-operated line runs from the group's Draupner E riser platform in the North Sea to the newly-constructed terminal.
Gas has been flowing through NorFra since 1 July, with contractual deliveries to Gaz de France starting at the beginning of this month.
"The system gives French gas buyers their first direct pipeline link to Norway's gas producers," says Richard Knut Eriksen, marketing manager in the western market, France, of Statoil's Natural Gas Marketing & Supply business area.
"The French authorities are concerned to safeguard national energy supplies. Energy minister Christian Pierret will say at the opening that NorFra marks the start of a new era for French gas supplies.
"Delivering gas directly to our second largest market is also important for Norway, which can thereby help to enhance delivery reliability to France and other European gas markets."