In 2006, the Langeled pipeline was completed. This megastructure was the longest subsea pipeline at the time, transporting natural gas from Norway to the United Kingdom. This is how they built it.
At the turn of the century, the United Kingdom made the decision to move away from fossil fuels. They looked towards natural gas as an alternative, and the market was ripe for suppliers.
Norway had discovered a gas field, called Ormen Lange, four kilometres long and eight kilometres wide, containing 300-billion cubic litres of gas. The problem was that it was situated 120km off-shore, locked in an icy tomb, 3,000 metres below the surface of the volatile North Sea.
It was too tempting to ignore, and engineers decided to figure out how to mine the gas. This would require machines that could bore 2,000 metres through the ocean bed, 1,000 metres below the surface of the sea.
The next step would be to then transport the gas from the deposit, 120km to one of Norway's largest gas plants called Nyhamna. There, it would be processed and then delivered to the UK, a staggering 1,200km away, via the Langeled subsea pipeline.
This ambitious project would require thousands of engineers to solve the issue of how to get this dangerous project completed. They would need to figure out how to drill into the seabed in incredibly treacherous waters. Then, they would also need to figure out a way to get the gas up a 300m near-vertical cliff face.
This was the first step, and would only get the gas to Norway's coastline gas plant. The next step would be to find a way to lay 100,000 pipes along the rocky landscape of the seabed to reach the UK.
This is where the mindblowing ingenuity of these engineers and developers shines through. They used a multitude of machines providing robotics in conditions unfit for humans, overcame obstacles previously thought impossible and invented new technologies to solve problems.
They made the unbelievable happen.
The film below, by YouTube channel, Free Documentary, will have you in awe of this achievement. It is fascinating, especially for budding engineers out there, and definitely worth 50 minutes of your time.