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Laying the Snøhvit line

April 20, 2005, 15:00 CEST

Work is underway on laying the main pipeline to carry the wellstream from the Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea to the Hammerfest LNG plant on the island of Melkøya in northern Norway.

On 18 April, the Solitaire laybarge started laying the 143-kilometre pipeline from the western side of Melkøya.

The vessel will continue towards the Snøhvit field at a rate of three to six kilometres per day.

"Laying the main pipeline means that an important piece of the big Snøhvit jigsaw is falling into place," says Olav Hagland, manager for pipelaying in the Snøhvit project. "There are many factors that play a part in contributing to the success of an operation like this, and the fact that we are operating so far north poses extra logistical challenges."

On board the Solitaire, 12.2-metre-long sections of pipe are welded together in a continuous process. The sections are fed out through a stinger at the stern of the laybarge, ensuring that the main pipeline is curved correctly during the laying.

The Solitaire is supplied with new pipe by three pipe transport boats which are sailing in shuttle service between the laybarge and the pipe storage area at Polarbase outside Hammerfest for as long as the laying continues.

The 28-inch diameter line pipe is made of steel with an outer coating of reinforced concrete. Each pipe section weighs between eight and 10 tonnes, with a total of 11,000 sections making up the main line.

Laying the main pipeline is expected to be completed at the end of May.