When the eighth round awards were announced on 9 March 1984, Shell found itself operating PL 093 – known today as Draugen – with Statoil and BP as its partners.
No time was wasted. As early as 26 June, the Borgny Dolphin drilling rig had spudded the first wildcat on this acreage – which proved an immediate success.
The main purpose of the well was to investigate and assess a possible reservoir in formations deposited during the early or middle Jurassic.
This geological period began some 200 million years before the present day and lasted about 50 million years. Even deeper strata would also be probed for oil and gas.
Unfortunately, the well path started to deviate at a relatively early stage in the drilling and the work had to start again from scratch a few days later.
The first trace of oil was found at a depth of 1 621 metres beneath the seabed, and the well penetrated the oil-water contact at 1 660 metres.
That confirmed the picture of the sub-surface which had been formed a few years earlier from studying seismic images. These gave a strong – and justified – hope of finding big oil resources.
An oil column of 40 metres, which was later confirmed in the well, is normally a sign of a good reservoir.
Drilling continued right down to a depth of 2 500 metres into rocks from the Triassic period, which lasted from 250 to 200 million years ago.
The well was plugged and abandoned on 7 September, after extensive testing[REMOVE]Fotnote: Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, fact pages.. Carried out in a six-metre zone roughly in the middle of the oil column, a production test yielded good indications of oil with outstanding properties.
So the Draugen field was discovered just six months after the acreage had been awarded.
Published October 9, 2018 • Updated October 9, 2018
This ceremonial act marked the start to oil production not only from a new offshore development but also from a whole new petroleum province on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). Tidens Krav, the local Kristiansund newspaper, even saw the ceremony as the beginning of a completely new era for Norway’s oil industry.
It observed that the magic barrier of the 62nd parallel – defined as the northern boundary of the North Sea ¬– had finally been breached. A further petroleum region with unimaginable resources would contribute big assets to the development of Norwegian society for generations to come.
“With the opening of Draugen, the first step has been taken into a new future for mid-Norway [which includes Møre og Romsdal and the Trøndelag region],” the paper wrote.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Asbjørn Jordahl, 2 December 1993. “Mulighetenes ti-år”. Tidens Krav.
This was also the first field which King Harald had the honour to open, in the presence of 40 carefully selected guests – including Norske Shell CEO Martin van den Wittenboer.
Also invited were Hans Meijer, Norske Shell’s exploration and production head, and the Draugen management team headed by operations manager Terje Olsen.
Møre og Romsdal was represented by county governor Alv Jakob Fostervoll and county council chair Grethe Bjørlo, Kristiansund by mayor Harald Stokke and the Ministry of Industry and Energy by state secretary (junior minister) Gunnar Myrvoll.
A visit by the monarch himself was naturally a big affair. One of his adjutants boarded the platform a week in advance to map out the royal itinerary. Everything was planned in detail – which toilet the king would use, a cabin in case he needed to rest and where he could smoke. Nothing was left to chance. Planning is one thing, reality another. A slight panic arose when the king’s luggage went missing. He had taken off his jacket before donning a survival suit for the flight to the field.
Although the royal guest left the helicopter on Draugen, his luggage with jacket ended up on Regalia, the flotel moored alongside the Draugen platform. “Has anyone seen my jacket,” King Harald enquired after his arrival. A search was instituted, the mishap quickly discovered and the garment returned at express speed.
The tour of the platform and the symbolic opening went entirely according to plan, and the monarch was in high good humour when he pressed the button. In reality, the field had come on stream as early as 19 October and production had therefore been under way for almost six weeks before the royal visit.
The ceremony was followed by lunch in the mess. “Everyone was dressed to the nines and the mood was good,” recalls production head Per Sælevik. “After the main course, though, the king produced a cigarette packet, pulled one out and lit up …”
Operations manager John Aitkin rushed to call the control room. “You must override all the smoke detectors in the canteen,” he ordered. “The king is smoking …” Others took advantage of the royal lead, and the cigarette smoke hung thickly over the mess. “I think I’ve helped a lot of people now,” King Harald observed calmly.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Sælevik, Per, Anecdotes from Draugen, unpublished.
In order for more people to participate in this special day, some 200 guests had been invited to follow the visit via TV monitors at Kristiansund’s Rica Hotel. They toasted and clapped as the button was pressed. The whole event on Draugen was transmitted live, preceded by glimpses from the construction of the concrete gravity base structure, the tow north from Stavanger to the Halten Bank and installation of the platform on 17 May.
Employees in Norske Shell’s operations office at Råket in Kristiansund, its head office in Oslo, and the offices in Sola outside Stavanger and Bergen also saw the transmission.
After the king and his entourage had returned from Draugen, a gala dinner was held at the Festiviteten banqueting hall in Kristiansund, with festive speeches and fine words. “The development of Draugen and Heidrun has created optimism and drive in a region which has lagged behind in recent decades,” King Harald observed in his speech.
He concluded by hoping that the town and its environs would meet the new challenges with hope, enthusiasm and a willingness to commit. After various cultural interludes, the monarch was presented by Mahdi Hasan, project director for the Draugen development, with a gift from Norske Shell. This took the form of an exact copy of the ship’s bell from the old royal yacht Heimdal, which had greeted the king’s grandfather, King Haakon VII, off Drøbak on the Oslo Fjord.
Accompanied by Queen Maud and Crown Prince Olav, Norway’s new monarch had been on his way to the capital on 25 November 1905 to take up his throne.
Kristiansund council did not want to be put in the shade, and Stokke presented King Harald with cufflinks bearing the town’s coat of arms.
He followed up by girting the Draugen administration with the six-volume history of the town. The new residents were to be incorporated not only in its present and future but also its past.
Fog and wind prevented the return flight to Oslo taking off from Kvernberget, and the king’s departure was therefore postponed. Instead, the party continued with more drinks being served and the mood rose irreproachably. The weather improved late in the evening and the royal plane could take off.
On the following day, Draugen information manager Alf Kristian Lillebo was called by the county governor and feared that something had gone wrong. But the governor wanted to report that the palace had called to express its satisfaction with the arrangements. Queen Sonja had commented that His Majesty had been in an unusually good mood when he returned the evening before.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Sælevik, Per, Anecdotes from Draugen, unpublished.
Local politicians started to work on this idea in 1970, which culminated at a meeting of the council’s executive board on 17 September 1970. The chief technical officer was asked to investigate and identify municipal and private properties able to provide quays which would be suitable for servicing oil exploration.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Those who want a more detailed description of the base issue in Kristiansund are recommended to read Hegerberg, H (2004). Et stille diplomati: Oljebyen Kristiansund 1970-2005. Kristiansund local authority. Large parts of this article are based on that work.
It is worth observing that this meeting took place less than a year after Norway’s first commercial oil discovery – Ekofisk, about as far south on the NCS as it could get – and nine months before that field came on stream.
Kristiansund’s new identify as a petroleum centre is so closely linked to this date that the town now celebrates 17 September as Oil Day every year. While the town’s oil committee took the initiative on this development, good collaboration between the council and local industry helped to lay the foundations for Vestbase.
When the facility could finally open a decade later, both these parties had invested large sums every year and devoted considerable work to turn it into a reality. Attractive sites were reserved from an early stage so that they would be available for establishing possible industrial activity at a later stage. While the chief technical officer identified potential sites, others made a big commitment in preparing and drawing up unified strategies and forging contacts with relevant players.
The local authority was well prepared and united when opportunities to attract petroleum-related operations arose. And the whole Nordmøre district also spoke with one voice here.
On 9 October 1972, council chairs from the region collectively identified Kristiansund as the natural base location for petroleum exploration off Møre og Romsdal. This was followed up by the county’s oil committee in the following February. Even more positively, the oil committees in both Sør- and Nord-Trøndelag called in March 1973 for the base to be in Kristiansund. This regional unity would prove important.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Solberg, J. (2009). Det Norske Oljeeventyret: En Analyse Av Den Petroleumsrelaterte Utviklingen I Midt- Og Nord-Norge.
by Trude Meland, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
“Oil fever” gripped Norway in the early 1970s, and a number of small oil companies were established by selling “people’s shares” to the general public. Any and all could by this stock, and the opportunities to cash in were seen as good.
Several promoters saw their chance to suck in large amounts of capital from ordinary Norwegians and channel it into exciting offshore projects. Atlant-Oil in Kristiansund was one of these. A separate oil company for the northern Møre region was discussed by the petroleum committee in 1972. This vehicle for small savers would collaborate over work with a larger partner.
Atlant-Oil’s business purpose stated that it would enter into joint ventures with other enterprises engaged in activities directed at exploring for, producing and utilising oil and gas on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). A inter-ministerial committee had proposed Kristiansund in 1972 as a future base port for offshore activity in the Halten Bank area of the Norwegian Sea. The town’s future as mid-Norway’s oil centre was regarded as assured. The initiative to found Atlant-Oil was taken by Rolf Arentz-Hansen, chair of the Kristiansund Commercial Association, Tore Jan Børresen in Kristiansund Finans, William Dall, chair of the local petroleum committee, and lawyer Øistein Selen. Their motive was to highlight interest in a local commitment.
Subscribers to the shares were sought not only in Kristiansund and northern Møre, but also in the neighbouring Trøndelag region. The promoters pointed out that collaboration with companies there would be necessary in the future.
Huge interest was shown in the shares when subscriptions opened on 21 February 1973 – so great that the sale had to be suspended. A ceiling was placed on how many shares any individual could buy. Kristiansund’s town council also subscribed NOK 25 000 (NOK 177 000 in 2017 value).[REMOVE]Fotnote:Adresseavisen. (1972, 27. desember) Kristiansund skal kjøpe oljeaksjer.
Atlant-Oil held its statutory general meeting in April 1973, when Dall was elected as its first chair.
In October that year, the company entered into a collaboration deal with Det Norske Oljeselskap (DNO), Norway’s first national oil company, whereby DNO would conduct all oil exploration and production for Atlant-Oil. The latter secured the right to a 10 per cent stake in DNO’s future licences, while retaining the ability to pursue independent activities, such as base and service operations.
Founded in 1971, DNO was rooted in the Norwegian shipping community and shipowners Jacob Stolt-Nielsen and Jan Erik Dyvi. Its capital was again raised by selling “people’s shares”. DNO’s future participation in Norway’s offshore sector was blocked by the government’s decision that only three Norwegian companies would be allowed to participate on the NCS. These were state-owned Statoil, partly state-owned Norsk Hydro and privately owned Saga Petroleum.
At the same time as the collaboration deal with DNO was signed, Atlant-Oil increased its share capital from NOK 5 million to NOK 25 million. The company envisaged a bright future, and believed that offshore blocks above the 62nd parallel (the northern limit of the North Sea) would be awarded as early as 1973-74.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Adresseavisen. (1972, 20. desember) Samarbeid Trøndelag – Nordmøre om oljen. Atlant-Oil took the initiative to establish Atlantic Supply in 1973. Based in Kristiansund, this limited partnership planned to build two large anchorhandling/supply ships.[REMOVE]Fotnote:Stavanger Aftenblad. (1973, 6. desember). Forsyningsskip fra nytt selskap.
The local Storvik Mekaniske Verksted shipyard secured the fixed price contract for these vessels. At NOK 82 million, this ranked as the largest single order so far awarded in Kristiansund. It soon became clear that collaboration with larger entities would be necessary in order to secure work for the ships from the big international oil companies.
Supply vessel operation became organised on a collaborative basis across the whole North Sea basin, through either joint ownership of vessels or the pooling of tonnage. The two anchorhandlers were placed in Edda Supply Ships, a pool encompassing 12 ships based in Aberdeen. It was organised by Jan Staubo at Helmer Staubo & Co with Victor Schage in Oslo, Johs Østensjø in Haugesund, Johs Presthus in Bergen and Atlantic Supply.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Skipet.no. Norsk skipsfartshistorisk selskap. De første forsyningsskip. Hentet fra http://www.skipet.no/maritimt/offshore/de-forste-forsyningsskip (publiseringsdato ukjent, lastet ned 10.1.2018)
Big spinoffs were created by the last of these companies in and around Kristiansund. The company did well initially, and controlled six ships at peak with 110 seafarers on its payroll. Then came the downturn. The offshore market slumped in the autumn of 1975, and pessimism proved justified during 1976 as far too many supply ships competed for work.
A lot of them had to laid up for long periods between poorly paid jobs. Although the ordering boom was fortunately over, further pressure was put on the market when 26 newbuildings were delivered during the year.
Demand proved to be strongest for the newest and most powerful vessels, which did relatively well, while the older and simpler ships faced the biggest problems. In the hope of finding better conditions elsewhere, a number of supply ships were transferred to other markets – including Brazil. Norwegian vessels also flooded into the UK market, where they already had a 40 per cent share.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Skipet.no. Norsk skipsfartshistorisk selskap. De første forsyningsskip. Hentet fra http://www.skipet.no/maritimt/offshore/de-forste-forsyningsskip (publiseringsdato ukjent, lastet ned 10.1.2018)
Things improved somewhat after the 1976 crisis. With 70 rigs drilling in the North Sea during the summer of 1977, demand for support ships was better than expected. Again, however, the big vessels were the most attractive and smaller ones did poorly. That trend continued into 1978, when Norway’s supply ship fleet began to slim down. Older units were sold abroad at low prices, and hopes for an improvement started to fade. Some groupings with small vessels retrenched, like Sandøy Supply and Norway Supply.
Johs Larsen and Bjergningskompagniet went into liquidation, while several of the partners in Bugge Supply and Edda Supply pulled out. It was not until the revolution in Iran and Khomeini’s takeover in 1979, with its threat of oil shortages, that optimism began to be restored in the supply ship sector. Atlantic Supply got both its timing and the market wrong. When the Halten Bank was opened for exploration and production in 1980, its supply ship fleet was gone. The local shipowners had lost their assets, and with them went northern Møre’s capital base.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Hegerberg, H. (2004). Et stille diplomati : Oljebyen Kristiansund 1970-2005. Kristiansund: Kristiansund kommune: 89.
Things did not go any better for Atlant-Oil, with DNO launching what amounted to a coup d’etat at the 1975 annual general meeting. It secured a majority on the supervisory board and ejected the northern Møre members. The Kristiansund company held substantial liquid assets, while DNO had suffered big losses and needed capital. It ignored Atlant-Oil’s regional policy intentions, proposed a merger in the autumn of 1976 and completed this take-over the following spring.
Published October 4, 2018 • Updated October 5, 2018
Finn Harald Sandberg, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Norwegian Contractors built up a very active concrete technology community in Norway from the mid-1980s. The most visible reminder of its commitment to material, product and production development is the Leaning Tower at Hinnavågen in Stavanger.
— With a hight of 50 meters and 16 degrees angle of inclination: This is the leaning tower in Stavanger. Photo: Norsk Fly og Flyfoto A/S/Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Not everyone was equally happy with that. The actual term draug derives from the Norse word draugr, which could originally mean any undead person or phantom.
Myths told along the Norwegian coast also identified the draug as a wraith, whether he lived in a mound (haugbúi in Norse) or emerged to haunt the living. At sea, a draug could warn of death or disaster.
In later folklore, the draug was usually described as the spirit of a fisherman who drowned at sea and had therefore not been buried in Christian soil. He was said to wear oilskins but had a clump of seaweed for a head, sailed half a boat with a ragged sail and was an omen of death for those who saw him – or even sought to pull them under water. He uttered an icy shriek on appearing.
Most of those who saw the draug died, but a story also exists from northern Norway about a local person who defeated the phantom. Schoolchildren in Møre og Romsdal county were invited in 1991 to take part in a drawing competition to illustrate the Draugen platform. More than 3 000 entries were submitted.
Seven-year-old Lisa Kristin Haugen from Ålesund emerged as the winner, and presented her drawing to petroleum and energy minister Eivind Reiten during a ceremony in Stavanger.
Published October 1, 2018 • Updated October 1, 2018
Every Christmas, the tradition has been to bring out a wife or partner as a surprise from one of those required to spend the festive season offshore. “Smuggling in” the person concerned without being spotted is a fairly difficult operation.
Gunnar Sembsmoen’s wife had been picked out one year. He knew nothing about it, and – in line with tradition – she was due to be revealed during the coffee break on 23 December. She had been installed in a large cardboard box, which was then taped securely shut, placed on a trolley and wheeled into the dayroom.
The next step was to draw the name of the lucky winner who got to open the package. Everyone on board was present and an expectant mood prevailed.
The hat used for the draw contained 20 slips – all with Gunnar’s name on them. “And the lucky winner is Gunnar Sembsmoen,” the offshore installation manager duly cried.
Gunnar stepped forward and, before anyone could stop him, pulled out his Leatherman knife, drove it into the cardboard and sliced open the package. The whole audience gasped.
His wife then jumped out, unhurt. Gunnar was left completely flabbergasted, but recovered to give his wife a good welcoming hug to great applause from the whole room.
Published October 1, 2018 • Updated October 3, 2018
Entitled From dino to dollar, this event lasted all evening with Britt Endresen and Kåre Igesund in charge. The gym had been given a stylish look, with beautifully decorated tables and a “welcome committee” in their finest clothes to greet the guests.
Several shifts had rehearsed songs and sketches as well as producing costumes and scenery. The orchestra was conducted by Werner Frøland, who also played guitar and sang, and included Bjørn Tunghaug on the organ and Kjell Leren on bass.
Published October 1, 2018 • Updated October 1, 2018
A storm was blowing on this day, creating lively motion for both rig and platform. As the crane operator lifted the tree from the wellhead, it began to swing. The drill pipe acted as a pendulum and the oscillation got greater and greater.
Landing the tree would destroy it, so the crane operator saw no option than to hoist the load up to the drill floor because it was crushing everything in its way.
With the pendulum motion undoubtedly reaching four-five metres in each direction, a big risk existed that producing wells would be hit and damaged.
Suddenly, one of the roughnecks jumped onto the tree as it surged past. He clutched the drill pipe with one hand and called out for a rope to be thrown to him.
People on the drill floor were in a state of panic, but eventually managed to get a line across. He wound this round the pipe and threw it back.
A steel cable was eventually put in place, and the pendulum effect began to diminish. The tree was lowered and the roughneck could climb down unhurt from his “swing”.
Published October 1, 2018 • Updated October 2, 2018