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International Herald Tribune: Production starts from Norway’s giant Ormen Lange offshore natural gas field

The Associated Press
Thursday, September 13, 2007

OSLO, Norway: Natural gas production from the Ormen Lange offshore field, eventually expected to supply 20 percent of Britain’s needs, started up Thursday, the Norsk Hydro ASA group said.

When flows from the Norwegian Sea field reach capacity of about 70 million cubic meters (42 trillion cubic feet) per day, it will make the Nordic country the world’s second-largest natural gas exporter, a statement said. Norway is the world’s third-largest gas exporter and the fifth largest oil exporter.

“This is a historic milestone, not only for Hydro, but also for the license partners and the Norwegian industry as a whole,” said Tom Roetjer, the head of the roughly 60 billion kroner (US$10.5 billion,€6.7 billion) field, processing and pipeline project for Norsk Hydro.

Production from Norway’s second-largest offshore natural gas field, discovered in 1997, will be sent to Easington, England, through the world’s longest underwater pipeline, called Langeland, which is 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) long, from a processing plant on Norway’s west coast. Some gas will also be piped to Continental Europe through other pipelines.

All production equipment for Ormen Lange uses subsea technology, with facilities on the ocean floor under 800-1,100 meters (2,560-3,500 feet) of water. There are no platforms above the ocean surface over the field, some 125 kilometers (75 miles) off Norway’s western coast.

“To enable us to produce gas at such depths and in such cold conditions, the Ormen Lange development has meant that we have had to develop pioneering technology,” Roetjer said. “This will enable us to make an important contribution to other technically challenging oil and gas developments in the future.”

Roetjer said the group will test production over the next few weeks, before gradually building up to expected levels.

Norsk Hydro, with an 18.07 percent interest, developed the field on behalf of its project partners. The Norwegian branch of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, with a 17.04 percent interest, takes over as field operator Dec. 1.

Other project partners are the Norwegian state oil investment fund Petero, with 36.5 percent, the Norwegian state-controlled oil company Statoil ASA, with 10.8 percent, Danish state-owned DONG Energy with 10.3, and ExxonMobil Corp. with 7.2 percent.

Ormen Lange is likely to be the last major offshore oil and gas project started up by Norsk Hydro before its petroleum division is taken over by Statoil on Oct. 1. Norsk Hydro will continue to operate as an aluminum and power generation company,

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