The final section of Statoil's Europipe II gas trunkline was laid on 3 June from Castoro Sei, which means the project is on schedule.

Together with Semac I, the Castoro Sei laybarge has been laying pipe south from the Danish North Sea to the German coast.

The Solitaire laybarge had already finished laying the northern section of the line from the coast of Norway to the boundary between the Norwegian and Danish North Sea sectors a couple of days ago.

This was also the point where Castoro Sei laid its final stretch of pipe, alongside the last section installed by Solitaire.

The Europipe II development is now entering a new phase which involves preparing to tie together the various pipeline sections, report project director Roar Jensen.

Three tie-in points are involved - one in the middle of the Danish North Sea, one on the Danish-Norwegian boundary and a third in 20 metres of water in Germany's coastal Wattenmeer wetlands.

The last of these involves a connection with the length of line laid into the German coast alongside Europipe I in 1994. Work on these three operations will be carried out during July and August.

Mr Jensen characterises this phase as technically complicated and challenging. The lines have to be filled with water, trenched and placed in a stable position on the seabed.

This will be followed by pressure testing and drying of the trunkline before sales gas can be transported through it.

The Europipe II project has been delayed because Solitaire got going late with the pipelaying, and also lost the line on two occasions. These delays have now been recovered.

"According to the plan we drew up with our partners after falling behind, our milestone was to complete pipelaying at sea during the first week of June," says Mr Jensen. "We've accomplished that."

The revised plan is designed to get Europipe into regular operation by the original deadline of 1 October 1999, when contractual gas deliveries are set to start.