Gas from Norways Sleipner and Troll fields in the North Sea is now being delivered to the British market after the opening of the southern leg of the new Langeled pipeline.
The first stage of what will be the worlds longest submarine gas pipeline was thereby operational as scheduled for the new gas year, which began on 1 October.
Statoil has been responsible for designing and laying the whole 1,200-kilometre Langeled system, which starts from Nyhamna in mid-Norway, on behalf of development operator Hydro.
Norwegian gas pipeline operator Gassco took over the operatorship of the complete pipeline on 1 September. The cost is currently estimated at NOK 17 billion, which is NOK 3 billion below the operators original budget.
We will complete all pipelaying on the northern leg this week, which means well manage to finish ahead of the winter season, says Langeled project director Leif Solberg in Statoil.
Were satisfied with that. The project has progressed on schedule. What remains now is subsea connections and testing on the northern leg until next summer.
Running for about 600 kilometres, the southern leg is already carrying gas from its starting point on the Statoil-operated Sleipner East field to Easington on the UK's east coast.
Mr Solberg hails the start to gas deliveries on the date laid down three years ago as a milestone for a system with the largest diameter 44 inches of any North Sea pipeline.
Due to start up in 2007, when the Ormen Lange field operated by Hydro in the Norwegian Sea comes on stream, the northern leg reaches a water depth of 360 metres on its way to Sleipner East.
It is designed for an internal pressure of 250 bar, corresponding to a water depth of 2,500 metres, which also represents a record for Norways gas transport system.
The system will have a total annual capacity of 20 billion cubic metres, or a fifth of British gas requirements in the course of a year.
This supplements the 12 billion cubic metres which can be carried annually in the existing Vesterled system from the Hydro-operated Heimdal platform to St Fergus in Scotland.