By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

            Last post we looked at the two major snags that come from pipeline installation, icebergs and diapirs. This time we are going to look at how the engineers can best design, prepare and analyze the ocean floor to install the pipelines.

Before we take about the pipelines, we will give a bit more information and recap on the project itself. INTSOK, the name for the project, has broken down the sea into 6 potential extraction area, ranging from easy, short term extraction, too hard, long term extraction. Each extraction point is shown below.

Figure 1 – Classification of the significance in each study area

Due to the large capital investment involved, the two countries broke down the area into 6 potential spots of extraction. These spots are further broken down into short term, medium term and long-term sites, with site 1 being easiest and cheapest option to site 6 being the hardest and most costly option. Short term extraction would be for the near future, up to the year 2025. Long term extraction would be for the distant future, 2050+. If the world begins to divest from oil dependency for example, through the use of electric cars, the demand for oil will fall and the extraction of the oil rich north will no longer be economically feasible.

To recap on the objectives of the project, the two countries want to;

“through industry cooperation and knowledge of Arctic technology needs, to contribute to the growth of the Russian and Norwegian industry participation in future petroleum endeavours in the High North (INTSOK – Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners, 2014).”

This means, the two nations want to advance how we extract oil from the ground through technological advances. One of the outcomes of this endeavour is to assess the existing technologies, methods and best practices Russian and Norwegian industry can offer for the High North today and see how they can improve it (INTSOK – Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners, 2014).

The subsea pipeline industry has developed significantly over the last two decades to meet new business challenges associated with larger water depth and with the transportation of aggressive and unprocessed fluids over long distances. In response to this, new pipeline concepts based on corrosive resistant materials, enhanced thermal performance and heating technologies have been qualified and successfully implemented. Subsea pipelines are expected to be a major building block in the development of gas and oil fields in the High North and are considered to be efficient for transportation of oil and gas to offshore hubs, to onshore processing/storage facilities or into existing transport networks (INTSOK – Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners, 2014). The harsh environment and the low temperatures in the High North will, however, force some additional pipeline requirements upon both fabrication/installation and operation. In addition to enforced steel materials and coatings able to resist low temperatures, pipeline systems in the High North must be designed for potential load conditions caused by direct or indirect ice interaction (INTSOK – Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners, 2014). Overall, the teams must develop and create new technologies to adopt to the ever-changing northern climates.

Next post will be a long post, looking at the history and costs of oil pipelines.


Gerwick, B. C. (2007). Construction of marine and offshore structures. New York: CRC Press.

INTSOK – Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners. (2014). Russian – Norwegian Oil & Gas industry cooperation in the High North. Skoyen: INTSOK.

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