Nalcor is just days away from a big step forward in the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project - drilling the underwater transmission line to link Labrador to Newfoundland. 

Greg Fleming, Nalcor's Marine Crossing Project manager, said Tuesday that the plan is to run the underwater transmission line along the sea floor from Shoal Cove in Newfoundland, across the Strait of Belle Isle, to Forteau in Labrador. 

To do that, Fleming said Nalcor will use horizontal directional drilling, the first time this technique has been used in this province.  Fleming said the equipment is already in place in Shoal Cove. 

"It's pretty much the same from the perspective of all the bits and equipment, except for the rig is turned on its side at about 12 degrees from horizontal," said Fleming. 

"It looks like the back of a transport truck jacked up slightly."

Fleming said a firm from Alberta will lead the project, drilling three holes as deep as 85 metres below the surface, to get the cable to the sea floor, then cover it with rock.

"We've done a significant amount of engineering over the past three years and worked with some global contractors to ensure we had the design correct and right now we are gearing up to execute the drilling," said Fleming. 

Fleming added that the cable will cover a distance of about 35 km, the longest project of this kind in North America. 

If everything goes according to plan, Fleming said Nalcor hopes to have the transmission line project completed by 2016.