dcsimg The Polar challenge that requires innovative thinking - Ramboll Group

The Polar challenge that requires innovative thinking

The record-breaking Polarled pipeline project in the Norwegian Sea is pivotal for the development of a new region to secure gas supply to Europe in the future. 


In 2012 alone, twelve new gas fields were found in the Norwegian Sea. The potential of the region leads to great optimism in order to secure energy supply to Europe for many years to come. The 481 km Polarled pipeline project will be step one in developing the new gas region and it will be the backbone for future connections. It is the world’s first pipeline of its size to be built at water depths of up to 1300 meters – a challenge that requires innovative thinking by the experts in Ramboll, who is in charge of the design of the pipeline for Statoil A/S.

Largest and most challenging pipeline project

The large scope of work, with special attention to the pipeline size and deep water installation, sets high demands for both optimisation and state-of-the-art technology to enter the pristine gas resources. There are few in the Norwegian market with know-how about designing highly complex subsea pipelines of this character. To meet the challenge, Ramboll has developed models for assessing complicated 3D design.

Project manager Lars Eriksen explains:

“The Polarled pipeline project is the largest and most challenging pipeline project we in Ramboll Oil & Gas have been responsible for. Due to the project size there are huge possibilities to optimise the various technical solutions. In particular, we have developed finite element models for assessing very complicated 3D design challenges. The models provide us with an exceptional understanding of the true physical behaviour of the pipeline and enable us to optimise the pipeline design. I strongly believe Polarled will become a new world class reference project for us.”

Image: Statoil

Developing invaluable software solutions

Ramboll is constantly developing new software tools for the project to be able to model the complexities of the project and efficiently optimise the design.

Especially a tool for determining fatigue life for free spanning pipeline is being developed. (The tool is developed using ANSYS for Eigen frequency analysis and Mathlab for classification of Eigen frequency, hydrodynamic loading and fatigue calculation).

“The investment made in developing the tools in-house will become extremely valuable for us for future projects as we can activate them on new projects, too. You simply cannot buy the tools in the market. They will become valuable for future projects of similar character enabling fast execution of extensive design disciplines,” says Kristoffer Bergholt, Engineering Manager of the project and Team Leader in the department of subsea and pipelines.  

Raising the bar on FEED projects

With the help of the software tools the team was able to deliver a very comprehensive Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) to Statoil.

“Our initial ambition was to make the world’s best FEED. It was matured to be close to detailed design for several disciplines. Statoil was very happy with our work and have highlighted this as how they see FEED for future projects. This of course is a great compliment to our work and also a great motivation. We’re not the only ones in the market with know-how about designing highly complex subsea pipelines of this character, but there are very few of us in the Norwegian market,” says Kristoffer Bergholt.

Statoil: Design will be competitive factor for similar future projects

The pioneering aspects of the project call for high-class expertise and technical understanding of the challenging environment while keeping future expansion opportunities in mind.   

Engineering Manager at Statoil A/S, Morten Aamodt, says:

“The key factors for success are to have the necessary technical competences and experience and to have the ability to understand each other’s expectations. And I believe this is the case between Statoil and Ramboll. The pipeline design made by Ramboll so far, and the engineering tools developed for this project to optimise the design will become a competitive factor for similar future projects.”


  • The Polarled Pipeline Project comprises a 36", 481 km gas transmission pipeline from the Aasta Hansteen field, located in the Norwegian Sea, to Nyhamna gas facility in the western part of Norway.
  • It is expected that a pipeline to the Barents Sea, which would potentially add another 1000 km, is a natural expansion of the Polarled pipeline.
  • Ramboll carries out FEED, detailed design, route optimisation, pipeline tie-in, geotechnical foundation design, risk and safety, EIA, interface coordination.
  • Project period: 2013 – 2016
  • Customer: Statoil
  • Budget: NOK 25 billion 


Kristoffer Bergholt
Head of Department, Offshore Pipelines