It became so icy on Draugen that the engine of a Super Puma helicopter which was due to fly then Labour prime minister Jens Stoltenberg to land refused to start.
The premier and his entourage were on board at the invitation of operator Norske Shell as part of a two-day visit to Kristiansund. This group was not just anybody. Shell was strongly represented, with managing director Johan Nic Vold and operations manager Anthony Charnley in Kristiansund.
Others present included Ole E Øverland, chair of the county council, and Harald Stokke, Per Kr Øyen and Synnøve Stokke from the Labour Party in Kristiansund.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Tidens Krav, 5 February 2001, “Kulda stanset Draugen-produksjon”.
Personnel on Draugen spent a couple of hours thawing out the carburettor – in part with hairdryers – before the engine started and the visitors could return to Kvernberget airport.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Per Sælevik, Stories from Draugen, unpublished.
Things went worse with oil production. Although the measured temperature was -9°C, winds of 20-25 metres per second reduced the chill factor to between -35°C and -40°C. Much of the topside equipment had not been designed to cope with such cold, and the freeze also created problems for important metering devices.
This was the first time low temperatures had forced Norske Shell to halt production,[REMOVE]Fotnote: Adresseavisen, 13 February 2001, “Frosten ga milliontap på Haltenbanken”. and Draugen remained shut down for no less than eight days. Instruments had to be thawed out before the start-up procedure could be initiated.
Norsk Hydro also had to suspend operations on its Njord facility, but took only four days to get back on stream. Norway’s other offshore platforms coped with the big freeze.
It is worth mentioning that the extreme cold also produced a Norwegian record in electricity consumption. Between 09.00 and 10.00 on Monday 7 February, households used no less than 23 000 megawatt-hours.[REMOVE]Fotnote: NTB, 9 February 2001, “Draugen fremdeles stengt”.
This record remained unbroken for 14 years, until another deep freeze in January 2016 led to a consumption of 24 190 MWh during the same morning period. The population had also risen from 4 524 000 to 5 214 000 over the intervening period.