The construction of the new 420 kV power line from Ofoten to Balsfjord, which will be 150 kilometres long, marks the first step of what Statnett hopes will be a new power line extending as far as Hammerfest. The Ministry of Petroleum granted the licence in August last year.
“We hoped that the licence would apply for the entire section to Hammerfest, but we are pleased that we can now start on the first section,” says Project Manager Kirsten Faugstad.
The power line is an important part of the next generation main grid, and will improve security of supply in Northern Norway. Today the grid is operated with reduced security of supply during some periods. Reinforcements are also important to meet the expected increase in consumption and the plans for greater industrial activity in Northern Norway, particularly in Finnmark County.
According to Faugstad, it is a standard project and fairly similar to other Statnett projects. However, there are some distinct differences.
“What makes this project fairly complicated is that we will be demolishing and building power lines at the same time – along the same route and during limited periods in the summer. At the same time, we must consider reindeer husbandry in the area,” Faugstad explains. Statnett is happy to facilitate reindeer fences and alternative grazing areas during construction periods in areas with reindeer populations. However, it has been difficult to establish agreements with the reindeer pasture districts.
Focus on HSE
Statnett aims to start construction in the spring of 2014, after having entered into contracts with the company’s contractors. About 25 Statnett employees are currently working on the project, but Faugstad expects that several hundred people, including contractors, will be involved at construction start. When so many people are involved in a project with so many hazards, including working at heights and near live power lines, helicopter work and a risk of avalanches, it is essential to maintain a strong health, safety and environment (HSE) focus.
“We have taken a lot of extra HSE precautions in this project. We set very strict requirements to our contractors, and we will be using new fall arrest equipment,” Faugstad says. According to Faugstad, this includes new fall arrest rails for pylons and emergency bridges along the power line route, in addition to a thorough pre-assessment of local avalanche risks and emergency routes.
The power line will run from the Ofoten transformer substation in Narvik Municipality and through the municipalities of Gratangen, Lavangen, Salangen, Bardu and Målselv, to Balsfjord substation in Balsfjord Municipality in Troms County. Two other sections will be completed in 2016, whereas the final section is scheduled for completion in 2017.
Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tord Lien has accepted an invitation to mark the construction start-up in May.
Text: Lise Tønsberg Vangerud Photo: Statnett