Gas Production Begins at Ormen Lange

Gas production from the Ormen Lange field on the Norwegian continental shelf began at 11:02 CET on September 13. Completion of this breakthrough development will make Norway the world's second-largest exporter of natural gas.

At full production, Ormen Lange is expected to meet 20 percent of the UK's requirements. Exports to the UK and the European continent will be moderate at first, and increase over the autumn.

"This is a historic milestone, not only for Hydro, but also for the license partners and the Norwegian industry as a whole. We are thrilled to be able to deliver gas from the Ormen Lange field to the UK and continental market, as planned," says Tom Rotjer, Hydro's director for Ormen Lange and the Langeled pipeline.

"From now until the inaugural ceremony on October 6, we will be testing production. This may result in fluctuating volumes of gas flowing from the field," he adds.

10 years from discovery to start-up

The development and operation plans for the Ormen Lange field and the Langeled gas pipeline were approved unanimously by the Norwegian Parliament on April 2, 2004. Phase 1 of the development, involving the Langeled gas pipeline, the land-based process plant at Nyhamna and offshore installations on the Ormen Lange gas field itself, was completed within the total budget of NOK 50 billion (in 2003 Norwegian krone terms).

"We have developed the Ormen Lange field 10 years since it was first proved by Hydro, thanks to meticulous planning ensuring the most predictable conditions possible during the development stage. In addition, we have been privileged to have utilized service companies of the highest caliber and have worked very closely with our partners, including Shell, who will take over operatorship from December 1. Completion of the project would probably not have been possible without the committed engagement of the of the entire More & Romsdal community in Norway," says Rotjer.

Maximum daily exports from the Ormen Lange field will amount to 70 million cubic meters of gas and 50,000 barrels of condensate. The gas will be piped to the UK through the Langeled pipeline which, along with Vesterled, is the second direct export pipeline to the UK from the Norwegian continental shelf.

With annual exports of more than 85 billion cubic meters, Norway is currently the world's third-largest exporter of natural gas. When Ormen Lange reaches plateau production in 2010, gas exports from Norway will increase to 120 billion cubic meters, or 20 percent of Europe's gas requirements.

Technologically, a pioneering project

After Troll, Ormen Lange is the largest gas field on the Norwegian continental shelf. The field, which is located in the North Sea about 120 kilometers from the Norwegian coastline, was discovered by Hydro in 1997. From a depth of 800 to 1,100 meters, the gas is transported by pipeline through demanding subsea terrain to Nyhamna on the island of Gossen in the municipality of Aukra in More and Romsdal. There the gas is processed before being exported 1,200 kilometers through the world's longest underwater gas pipeline, Langeled, to Easington on England's east 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. This will enable us to make an important contribution to other technically challenging oil and gas developments in the future," says Rotjer.

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