person Norwegian Petroleum Museum
The maintenance term covers all the activities required to ensure that equipment functions as expected. That includes inspection, service, repair and preservation.
— Kaffepause på "elektriker-sjappa" på Edda 2/7 C. Foto: Husmo Foto/Norsk Oljemuseum
© Norsk Oljemuseum

Platforms on Ekofisk have a permanent maintenance staff, comprising a supervisor, electricians, automation technicians, mechanics, materials administrators and roustabouts.

In addition, the Ekofisk Complex has a technical support department which provides assistance with maintenance on the outlying platforms.

Where major maintenance operations are involved, contractor companies provide scaffolders or rope access technicians, welders, painters, divers, ROV operators and the like.

arbeidsliv, vdelikehold
Electricians, welders and scaffolders are servicing Norpipe 37/4 A. Photo: Husmo Foto/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

The Greater Ekofisk Area is shut down about once every three years for maintenance which would not otherwise be possible. This happens in August, when European demand for oil and gas is at its lowest and weather conditions are usually favourable.

ConocoPhillips no longer has a dedicated maintenance department, with such work directly subordinated to the operations team.

This work area assists the field organisation with planning, coordination and follow-up of offshore maintenance activities. It acts as a support team for analysis, optimisation and further development of maintenance overall.

A new programme called total productive maintenance (TPM) was introduced in 1993. Personnel would fine-comb, identify and assess the condition of everything on the installations.

Fifty-two people were assigned to TPM, half from Phillips and the rest in the form of contract personnel. They included electricians, instrumentation technicians and mechanics.

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Maintenance manager Hans G. Hop checks the pump system for water injection testing. Photo: Husmo Foto/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

Maintenance supervisor

Every platform in the Greater Ekofisk Area has a supervisor responsible for overall control, maintenance and operation of all its technical equipment.

Motor mechanic

Motor mechanics repair and maintain mobile and stationery internal combustion motors and power trains, including generators and associated hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical systems.

Their duties have expanded over time from simple motors with a minimum of accessories to embrace advanced electronic control systems.

arbeidsliv, vedlikehold, mekaniker, motormekaniker
Mechanic Reidar Skjetne on Tor 2/4 E. Photo: Husmo Foto/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

These skilled personnel face big demands to avoid the harm an internal combustion motor can cause to the environment, both locally and global. So it is very important that they can identify faults in and repair advanced engines.

The motor mechanic also has to understand the global environmental consequences of adjustment errors. They must be able to look after and deal with the hazardous waste produced by engine repair and maintenance.

These personnel must be able to apply computer technology to such tasks as generating work orders, finding the right part numbers, ordering spare parts and handling requests for these.

Motors must function in many cases during extreme weather conditions where life and health are under threat. So it is important that motor mechanics set high standards for operational safety when doing repair and maintenance.

They must be able to work independently, and to plan and execute their jobs. The ability to collaborate with others is also necessary.

Industrial mechanics

These tradespeople carry out mechanical maintenance of machinery and equipment, and work today in a number of sectors such as chemical and mechanical engineering, shipbuilding and wood processing as well oil and gas.

Their work varies from place to place and between sectors, depending on production, mechanical outfitting, division of labour and form of organisation.

They must be able to work independently and plan the execution of jobs in a way which safeguards the company’s interests. The ability to collaborate in groups where appropriate is important.


Arbeidsliv, vedlikehold, stillas, stillasbygger, fjellklatrer,
Scaffolding worker from a contractor company sets up scaffolding. Photo: ConocoPhillips/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

Scaffolding was earlier erected by the people who were going to use it. Today, specialist companies handle such work because developments in shipbuilding and petroleum sector mean it has become more extensive, with tougher safety and quality standards.

A scaffolder erects scaffolding so that construction work can be pursued in a safe and prudent manner and in areas which are otherwise difficult to access.

The work comprises transporting, erecting and demolishing scaffolding at construction sites both on land and offshore. Scaffolders must also be able to erect and demolish tents, gangways and railings, and carry out rigging work with the aid of lifting equipment.

They should generally have good physical strength and health, a practical orientation, technical insight, a service-minded attitude and no fear of heights.

Since scaffolding is pursued in close proximity to other tradespeople in the construction sector, the work calls for tolerance and the ability to collaborate.

Scaffolding must be done in a safe manner, so learning the appropriate regulations plays a key part in training. A safety harness must be used when working more than two metres up.

The regulations specify safety rules as well as the type and class of scaffolding, and set requirements for approval, marking, checking, calculating and documentation.

Given the knowledge and skills required of such workers, scaffold-building represents a good and secure job.

Rope access technicians

arbeidsliv, organisasjon, yrke, vedlikehold, stillas, fjellklatrer,
Climbing is used more and more for inspections rather than building scaffolding. Photo: ConocoPhillips/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

During the 1990s, scaffolding and thereby scaffolders became replaced more and more by climbers who had specialised in scaling concrete walls, bridges, towers and other human structures.

These people are mountain climbers certified to level 2. They climb alongside the operator’s maintenance personnel, who still do the inspection and repairs.

The latter are not as good at climbing as the supervisors, but receive “rope access” training in addition to traditional skills such as painting and sandblasting.

Using rope access technicians rather than scaffolding makes it possible to do more inspections and repair work in less time. This method is less weather-dependent and can be used year-round.

Rope access personnel can exploit a brief period of good weather, rather than a whole team having to spend days erecting scaffolding for 30 minutes of inspection, and then demolishing it.


arbeidsliv, vedlikehold, elektriker,
Electrician working at Ekofisk. Photo: Husmo Foto/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

Working with electricity is hazardous and therefore calls for accuracy and good system understanding. Legislation and regulations impose careful controls, and electricians must accordingly observe safety routines intended to avoid accidents.

Training in this discipline places great emphasis on knowing legal safety requirements. Each job is conducted on the basis of documentation and regulations. An electrician must have good colour recognition to be able to use relevant codes and markings.

They work on various types of energised systems in buildings large and small, in industrial plants and on rigs and vessels. Their workplace can range from one-person companies to big groups.

Norway belongs to a number of international organisations which set norms for work with electricity. Norwegian regulations are drawn up on the basis of decisions by these bodies.

That work is done by the Norwegian Electrotechnical Committee, the Norwegian Maritime Authority and DNV GL. The Norwegian Directorate for Product and Electrical Safety conducts checks based on the regulations for electricians.

NDT inspectors

arbeidsliv, vedlikehold, NDT-kontrollør, dykkerfartøy,
Preparation of the unmanned RCV diving vessel for underwater controls. Photo: ConocoPhillips/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

Non-destructive testing (NDT) and non-destructive material testing are utilised for structural checks by the offshore inspection department. They are applied to piping systems, pressure vessels and structures above water.

Such inspections are carried out partly to check weld quality and partly to identify corrosion damage arising during operation. They are done above water by dedicated personnel in cooperation with scaffolders or rope access technicians.

Structural inspection under water utilises ROVs controlled by contract personnel. NDT is used for fault-seeking in materials and can utilise various methods: magnetic power (MT), penetrant (PT), ultrasonic (UT), eddy current (ET) or radiography (RT).

Before 1987, this type of material testing was carried out on Ekofisk by classification society Det Norske Veritas (now DNV GL). A dedicated group for structural inspection was eventually built up at ConocoPhillips.

Such specialist inspectors have a versatile and varied occupation, which calls for a high degree of accuracy and independence.


Arbeidsliv, vedlikehold, sveising, sveiser, historier, hot work permit, engelsk,
Welding at Ekofisk 2/4 P. Photo: Husmo Foto/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

ConocoPhillips has no welders of its own today. Such services are provided by contractors who carry out modification work when new components and equipment are to be installed.

Once the inspectors have identified fractures or cracking in an offshore structure, the welders are brought in. They work on the seabed, along pipelines and on platform legs.

Such assignments used to be done exclusively by divers, but the bulk of them are carried out today by ROVs.

Welding also takes place high up the platforms – at tip of the flare stack, for example. Here, welders get help from either scaffolding or rope access technicians.

Maintenance shutdowns on Ekofisk usually mean extra work for welders and the other members of the team dedicated to such activities. This is when operations which cannot be done while the platforms are on stream get carried out.

Arbeidsliv, vedlikehold, sveiser, Sveising
Welding. Photo: Husmo Foto/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

Trained welders are qualified to weld metallic structures using various techniques and positions prescribed in specifications, procedures, drawings and standard sheets.

Jobs must be done under the prevailing conditions both indoors and indoors and out, in the required positions and with the methods and procedures prescribed.

Welders must be able to work independently, plan the execution of jobs in a way which safeguards the company’s interests, and collaborate in groups.

Welders work today in a number of sectors, such as chemical and mechanical engineering, petroleum, shipbuilding and wood processing.

Their work varies from place to place and between sectors, depending on production, mechanical outfitting, division of labour and form of organisation.


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Roustabouts Roald Kyllingstad and Egil Lima paint the lifeboat orange. Photo: Unknown/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

Several types of roustabouts are employed offshore. In the maintenance department, their duties can include helping to carry out operational and maintenance jobs.

Such work may embrace rust chipping, scraping, painting, washing bulkheads and decks, water jetting, and lubricating crane components, lifeboat systems and so forth.

Materials administrators

arbeidsliv, vedlikehold, materialforvalter, sentrallager
Materials administrator Harald Sivertsen in the central stockroom on 2/4 P. Photo: Husmo Foto/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

The central warehouse on Ekofisk 2/4 P functioned up to 1998, when it was transferred to the 2/4 J platform. Spare parts for the whole Greater Ekofisk Area are dispensed from there.

Of necessity, the materials administrator uses a computer system to maintain an overview of stocks at any given time and to order the parts which might be required.

Materials management covers a wide range of sectors, including wood processing, metals, mechanical and chemical engineering and food processing. In all these areas and more, this discipline is crucial for production.

Key jobs include goods handling, from reception and holding of raw materials to storage and despatch of finished products. Also important is transport with mobile and stationary systems.

A qualified materials administrator must have an overview of the company’s total materials throughput, and will also often be involved in production both directly and through controlling raw materials and products. They must therefore be familiar with the latter as well as the company’s production techniques.

Such managers must know about and have skills in materials technology and internal transport, and be able to work with procurement, sales and administration, expediting, packaging or warehouse management.

They must be able to execute all their duties independently, but also in cooperation with others. The work must be of good quality and executed in a prudent manner with regard to health, safety and the environment as well as to financial considerations.

Automation mechanics

Instrumentation technicians were upgraded around 1990 to automation technicians. A new position of automation mechanic was created to fill the gap which thereby arose between mechanics and automation technicians.

Automation mechanics install equipment in automated industrial production facilities as well as building them up and doing fault-checking, repairing and maintaining with such installations.

They work where condition variables are measured and converted to signals which are transmitted, received, analysed and assessed. That in turn forms the basis for decisions and electro-mechanical interventions.

These personnel must be able to plan their work on the basis of drawings, sketches and job descriptions, and to check that it is executed in accordance with applicable quality and safety provisions.

Furthermore, they must be able to install and maintain relevant control systems and to build up and fault-check electromagnetic controls in low-voltage facilities.

Automation mechanics are involved to a great extent in shaping technical solutions related to the automation of production processes, so inventiveness is an important requirement.

Work in this discipline calls for considerable adaptability in order to provide the services required by society at any given time.

Its practitioners therefore need the ability and willingness to enlarge and alter their expertise in order to be better fitted to meet tomorrow’s demands for flexibility.

Automation mechanics must be able to work independently while also collaborating well. Most of them will serve in industrial sectors where automation is a key element.

Automation technicians

An automation technician handles assembly, service and maintenance jobs which require them to assess and solve technical operational problems in automated processes, machinery and plants.

They work in the process mechanical engineering industries as well as in companies which install, build, repair and maintain automated process systems and machinery.

This discipline is therefore multidisciplinary by nature, and calls for a good overall understanding of processes and automation systems. It also calls for considerable inventiveness.

Automation technicians maintain, fault-seek, repair, replace, install, check and adjust electronic, electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic measurement, control and regulation systems.

They work with regulation technology as well as with electrical installations where voltages range up 1 000 volts AC and 1 500 DC.

Such specialists have a special responsibility for shaping systems to take account of health, safety and the environment. Their work must comply with statutes, regulations and rules issued by the Norwegian Directorate for Product and Electrical Safety, the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority and other regulators.

In this connection, detailed solutions must be viewed in relation to system structures in order to ensure that overall safety is maintained.

Automation technicians must collaborate with other specialists responsible for the operation and maintenance of process and production facilities.

They correct faults, optimise and help to shape the automation systems so that these correspond with user requirements.


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Painter Hans Merkesdal at work on H-7. Photo: Husmo Foto/Norwegian Petroleum Museum

Somebody always needs to be cleaning and painting on a platform, where seawater, wind and usage cause wear and tear on structures and equipment.

To keep Ekofisk in an acceptable condition, rust must be removed, equipment sandblasted and everything painted. The painters often travel from platform to platform.

The machinery and industrial painting trade has expanded in line with manufacturing growth. Large metal structures need effective corrosion protection to avoid major repair costs and a possible threat to life and health.

Where Norway is concerned, the mechanical engineering and petroleum industries have been particularly significant for the development of this discipline. Machinery and industrial painters are trained to assess, prepare and pretreat surfaces.

Working with solvents, dust and chemicals, they have to protect themselves and take care of health, safety and the environment. The job also involves heavy lifting and is often done out-of-doors.

In Norway, this trade is particularly associated with heavy engineering and offshore operations. That includes surface treatment of power stations, tank farms, drilling rigs, ships and platforms.

These painters also rectify rust damage caused by various environmental loads such as wear, salt and damp in reinforced concrete structures. Correct surface treatment helps to protect major assets for society.

Practitioners work in close association with other trades in the building and mechanical engineering sectors. Tolerance of and respect for other disciplines are therefore important requirements for machinery and industrial painters.

Published 31. July 2019   •   Updated 30. October 2019
© Norsk Oljemuseum
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Knut Åm – oil and gas veteran

person by Kristin Øye Gjerde, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
The special contribution made by Knut Åm to Phillips Petroleum Company was one reason for his appointment in 2014 as a Knight First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav.
— Knut Åm in his office in 1993. Photo: Dag Myrestrand/ConocoPhillips
© Norsk Oljemuseum

Åm was born at Årdal in the Sogn district of western Norway in 1944, and grew up in Oppdal and Volda/Ørsta where he proved an able pupil at school. 

He opted to study mining engineering at the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH) in Trondheim, graduating with honours in 1967. 

Åm’s first job was with the Norwegian Geological Survey (NGU), again in Trondheim, where he worked and conducted research for six years. One of his jobs was to interpret aeromagnetic measurements of sub-surface rocks made from the air, which provide valuable information on geology and prospects for finding petroleum. In a series of publications, he described the big sedimentary basins identified in the Skagerrak between Norway and Denmark and in the Norwegian and Barents Seas. 

He joined the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) in 1974, serving as a section head in the resource department and a principal engineer in the safety department. 

That was followed by three years with Statoil, where he became the state oil company’s first vice president for research and development. His appointments at the time included chairing a research programme on offshore safety, which led to legislation enacted by the Storting (parliament) and a bigger research effort. 

Joining Phillips

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Hovedkontoret til ConocoPhillips i Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Foto: ConocoPhillips

Åm secured a job with Phillips in 1982 and was soon sent to the head office at Bartlesville in Oklahoma to get better acquainted with the company and its corporate culture. 

After a year in the USA, he returned to the company’s Tananger office outside Stavanger and became the first Norwegian to serve as offshore manager for the Greater Ekofisk Area (GEA). 

That put him in charge of 23 platforms, with responsibility for the waterflooding programme as well as the project to jack up a number of the installations. These major developments extended the producing life of the GEA and sharply increased estimates for recoverable reserves from its fields. 

Åm led this work during difficult times, with low oil prices and the need to implement cost savings and overcome substantial financial challenges. As if that were not enough, he also taught at the University of Bergen from 1985 to 1990 as an adjunct (part-time) professor of applied geophysics. 

First Norwegian chief executive

Knut åm,
Knut Åm ved kontorpulten i 1993. Foto: Dag Myrestrand/ConocoPhillips

After heading operations in the Permian and San Juan Basins at Odessa, Texas, from 1988-91, Åm became the first Norwegian president and managing director for Phillips Petroleum Norway. 

That put him in charge of 3 000 employees in the GEA as well as in Tananger, Oslo, Teesside and Emden. This was when a redevelopment of Ekofisk was planned, along with the future cessation and removal of old platforms.[REMOVE]Fotnote: 

By 1996, Åm was back in Bartlesville – now as vice president and head of all exploration and production in Phillips. He stayed in that job until retiring in the USA during 1999.

Offices and committees

But his working life did not end there. Appointments from 1999 to 2007 include membership of the Statoil board – and many similar posts can be mentioned. 

Åm has been president of the Norwegian Geological Council and the Norwegian Petroleum Society, and chair of the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (now the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association). 

He led the exhibition committee of the 1996 ONS oil show in Stavanger, and has chaired Bergen’s Christian Michelsen Research institute as well as the industrial council of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.  

In addition to chairing Hitec ASA, he has been a director of several technology companies. 

Mention must also be made of the improved recovery committee appointed by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy with Åm as chair. This produced a report in September 2010 which presented 44 specific measures for improving the recovery factor on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). 

Through his work and many appointments, Åm has been acclaimed for a combination of expertise, creativity and determination.  He also demonstrated the ability to tackle the requirements of Norway as a nation as well as the industry and its employees – not least with regard to the working environment and safety in a demanding and risky offshore industry. 


In retirement, Åm is an optimist – with regard to the climate as well. “I’m very concerned with nature, but believe we should extract the resources its given us,” he told Otium in 2016. 

“Norway could have a long and good future in the oil and gas industry if people give it more support. Exploring for new deposits is important, but we should also seek to achieve a far better recovery factor from both new and existing fields.” 

“You can naturally concentrate on life’s negative aspects. Then everything’s simply awful. I think you’ll be a far happier person if you prefer to see the positive side of life. I call that self-motivation. We need more of that in the energy sector.”[REMOVE]Fotnote: 

Published 21. October 2019   •   Updated 21. October 2019
© Norsk Oljemuseum
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Knut Ove Kristensen – veteran manager with his heart in HSE

person Kjersti Melberg, Norwegian Petroleum Museum. Based on an interview with Kristensen on 12 September 2019.
More than forty-five years of service on Ekofisk underpin Knut Ove Kristensen’s status as a pioneering leader on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). His involvement began in 1974 when he switched from a career at sea to become a process technician for Phillips Petroleum.
— Knut Ove Kristensen in conversation with process apprentice Fredrik Svindland Theissen (left) and operations manager Siri Friestad. Photo: ConocoPhillips
© Norsk Oljemuseum

Early promotion and trust followed, and he served as an offshore installation manager (OIM) for more than 33 years in the Greater Ekofisk Area. 


Kristensen recalls that he was a committed young man in the early 1970s – an open, curious and plain-speaking person who was not afraid to criticise health, safety and environmental (HSE) conditions. 

The working style he encountered offshore suited him well, ready as he was to speak his mind. “I’ve undoubtedly been a loud-mouth. I’m used to having zealous people in the Family With grand-parents and a father who served as mayors, which is perhaps why I don’t quite know when to keep quiet.” 

Thinking back to working conditions when he started in petroleum industry, he recalls living on Gulftide, Norway’s first production facility, and says it was fascinating. 

“This was an old jack-up rig, with the helideck installed on planks. We were four to a cabin, and things were pretty shabby. Primitive conditions prevailed, to put it mildly.” 

The workplace at the time was characterised by the presence of the Americans, and confusions frequently arose between them and those who were not particularly good at English. 

“It was very unusual,” reflects Kristensen. “We were trained up by the Americans, of course – they were the ones who knew about this business. There were a lot of misunderstandings among the Norwegians, people who pretended to understand the messages they were given about what jobs to do. Both serious and funny situations occured. Those of us who’d been to sea undoubtedly had an advantage in that we knew the language a bit better. The rest were fishermen and smallholders and ordinary people from the Districts in Western Norway who didn’t speak much English. Offshore terminology wasn’t easy for people who didn’t have the language.” 

He quickly grasped the ethos in this working environment. “The Americans often only gave you one chance. If you showed that you could cope with your job, you won trust, new opportunities and more responsibility.” 

Given his background in the Norwegian merchant marine, however, Kristensen reacted negatively to a number of the conditions which prevailed at the time. “I was one of the youngest then, and that wasn’t always easy because there were a number of older and more experienced people who felt they had a ‘monopoly of brains’,” he comments. “And quite a lot were pushy. “Working conditions weren’t orderly, with proper employment contracts like I was used to from my time at sea thanks to the Norwegian Seamen’s Union – unionisation and the like.” 

He adds that he is grateful for everything he learned from the Americans, but that they at the time were not particularly keen on unions and the Norwegian concept of collaboration between employers and employees. “They thought it was enough to enter into agreements on a mantoman basis or with the company, and saw no need to organise this via trade unions.” 


Given his views, it is not surprising that he became involved at an early stage with the Ekofisk Committee by serving as secretary to Øyvind Krokvik, who was first head of this union. 

Kristensen explains that he has been committed throughout his career to involvement and worker participation and to good collaboration between unions, the safety service and management. That was particularly important during the early years of the petroleum industry on the NCS, he emphasises. His experience of union work accompanied him into various senior posts on Ekofisk. 

With a gleam in his eye, he says the following about his promotion: “Acquiring managerial responsibility early on may have had something to do with my involvement with the union. Putting in place systems for worker participation and collaboration was particularly important in the early years of Norway’s offshore industry. 

“I played a part in establishing the parameters which govern industrial relations out on the field today, with unions and the safety delegate service.

I became the country’s youngest OIM at the age of 24, and served as a manager out there for 41 years.

They may have thought ‘he’s more trouble than we need, so we’ll just promote him up and then be quit him.” 

Kristensen reports that he has been preoccupied throughout his managerial career with ensuring that “things are genuine” – that a manager must understand and personally be part of “the home team”. He explains that as the ability to understand a position from the standpoint of the various parties involved, and adds that he has thrived offshore with a living and working community. This he defines as one “where you get close to people, where everyone is seen and heard, and where they understand that they play an important role in reaching a common goal”.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Pionèr, ONS 2018: 8. 

It did not take him long to learn how to adjust his management style to the offshore environment, but admits that this approach has developed over the years. The leadership culture which dominated on the platforms during the early years undoubtedly influenced me a bit. I was probably very inflexible and saw things in black-and-white, but have become more judicious and considered over time. 

“Nobody left my office earlier in any doubt about what I meant. I thought that saved a lot of time. But I can’t have been too bad, or I wouldn’t have held down the job for so long.” 


Kristensen’s long service makes him unique on Ekofisk, and he has thought a lot about management. His expressed strategy has been to get people on side over HSE through commitment and integrity – and without any “second agenda”. 

“Working in the Ekofisk Complex with 600-700 people is an unusual experience,” he observes. “I held the same job as the man in charge for 20 years. “That means you’re ‘on stage’ the whole time, and attend 10-12 HSE meetings every week. You’ve got to get people committed, drive a doctrine and sell a message. This involves getting what people have to concentrate on implanted in their hearts and minds so they can contribute to their own safety and that of others, he explains. 

“You must be genuine, and your own integrity must be order. You have to build trust, and not least display respect for your audience.” 

“What’s been a powerful help for me is that I’m on the home team. I’ve been a skilled worker myself and have been through most things.” 

Kristensen emphasises several times that he regarded the unions, their elected officers and the safety delegates as a resource in this work. 

“The tripartite collaboration pursued in the petroleum industry between government, companies and unions functions very well,” he concludes.  “This is about informing and involving people, and ensuring that decisions aren’t taken over their heads. Our company has achieved that in a positive way.” 

“The fact that Ekofisk is a mature field and ConocoPhillips is a mature company also has something to do with it. Cooperation with the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway and other authorities is also very good.” 

Kristensen denies that union-management collaboration has become more strained during the downturns experienced by the petroleum industry. “Strained and strained – we must adjust to external conditions and try to protect the jobs needed to safeguard the industry. But nobody’s ever been made redundant by this company. That’s worthy of respect.

Downsizing has been solved with severance packages. People have often been given early retirement. From that perspective, it’s been a privilege to work for an operator company.” 


After almost 46 years with the company, Kristensen’s commitment to continuous improvement, good safety and high production regularity is as strong as ever. Recognising that substantial progress has been made in the HSE area over the years he has worked in the industry, he affirms that this issue is closest to his heart. 

“We’ve staked out the path as we’ve advanced. We don’t accept incidents and accidents. We take a completely different approach to risk today. Accidents which do occur are used for all they’re worth in an effort to say to ourselves: ‘this has actually happened, but it’s our duty to learn from it’.” 

Kristensen has personally experienced accidents and injuries at close hand, and thereby knows the importance of preventive safety work to protect people, the environment and equipment. 

He will never forget some incidents – and immediately mentions the Alexander L Kielland disaster in 1980 With 123 casualties. An article in local daily Stavanger Aftenblad as recently as 2012, with photos of all those who have died on duty on the NCS since 1966, made a big impression on him. 

Britain’s Piper Alpha explosion in 1988, when 169 people were killed, is another major incident he recalls. His conclusion is that the petroleum sector has not been a Promised Land for all. 

The former OIM proudly mentions a number of HSE improvements which have partly been the result of technological advances in the industry during his time. But he warns about hazards which still exist, such as vessels drifting out of control. A well-known incident on New Year’s Eve in 2015 made a particularly strong impression on him. 

A 150000 tons, unmanned barge had come loose and was threatening to collide with installations on Ekofisk. Several hundred workers from this field and neighbouring Valhall were flown to safety and production was shut down. The barge passed the platforms at a distance of about one nautical mile, but Kristensen found the actual incident and the threat it posed frightening. 

“Drifting vessels which come loose in rough weather, which can get pretty challenging out there, are perhaps the biggest hazard we now face. Luckily we have good procedures to handle such challenges.” 


Such incidents and near-misses are regarded by Kristensen as a reminder that the petroleum industry is under an obligation to learn the necessary lessons. He points to the potential for learning from other industries, and emphasises the good collaboration which prevails across the company. Mechanical handling provides a good example, he says. 

“Things can go terribly wrong. After fatal accidents in the 2000s, we established a work group which held monthly meetings. I took part as technical manager for these facilities. We involved everyone in the logistics chain on land, at the base and on the platforms. That attracted so much attention and such great improvements that we’ve now managed to prevent virtually all undesirable conditions in this area.” 

Despite good systems and routines, colleagues on the installations are Kristensen’s most important reminder of the responsibility he has had as an OIM on Ekofisk. 

“Experiences from my early years meant that I have become particularly attentive to HSE – and I was involved in quite a lot, of course. But this mostly relates to the individual who gets injured on your watch and on your shift – in other words, the people you work with. They stood on the drill floor and worked so that the sparks flew around their ears. Having only two-three fingers used to confer ‘status’. 

He notes that improvements have a lot to do with technological progress. Much risk has been eliminated by automating a great deal of the work which used to be done manually. 

“But we still have more than enough opportunities to injure ourselves. This has a lot to do with awareness – being present in the real world, making sure you’re focused. That’s actually expected for 12 hours at a time.” 

A respectful attitude to his big responsibilities and duties was maintained by Kristensen to his last working day. “Emergency preparedness is like being at war – you do what you’re told. But you feel it. Although we’ve trained so long at this, you’re still conscious of being responsible for several hundred lives. Taking a wrong decision could … You must act on the basis of the information you’ve got, not what you know many months later. When you tackle it, however, you get a sense of mastery at solving the problem together with an outstanding emergency response organisation on land. Ultimately, though, you’re the skipper on your own ship.” 

Time to reflect

Kristensen has finally retired from ConocoPhillips, giving him time to reflect over his own commitment and lifestyle offshore as it affected him and his family. 

“For my own part, I must say that it’s had a price,” he admits. “I couldn’t get involved in politics or organisations, for example. I was only at home half of the time. I followed up the kids when I was at home, of course, but never felt I could be active in associations and so on, contribute the way I’d have liked. 

He has found the transition to retirement unaccustomed in many ways. “Simply remembering that I’m not going offshore is a big change, for example. I had to deal with so many challenges right up to my last day at work that it’s been impossible to prepare anything. I ought to have thought about and planned retirement a bit better, of course, but I’ll undoubtedly find something to do when I want to.” 

Published 21. October 2019   •   Updated 25. October 2019
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Ekofisk 2/4 VC

person Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Injection water from subsea installation Ekofisk VC (Victor Charlie) began to be pumped down well VC-03 on 28 September 2018. Well number two came on line just under a week later. 
Kjappe fakta:
  • Plan for development and operation (PDO) was approved by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy on 7 September 2017.
  • Part of Ekofisk South
  • Installed September 2017
  • On stream September 2018
  • Gets electric power and signals from Ekofisk 2/4 M
  • Also called "Victor Charlie"
— Illustration of Ekofisk 2/4 VC (Victor Charlie). Illustration: ConocoPhillips
© Norsk Oljemuseum

The aim of this facility – an extension to the Ekofisk South project – was to increase waterflooding on the southern flank of the Ekofisk reservoir in order to maintain oil and gas production. 

An amended plan for development and operation (PDO) of Ekofisk South was approved by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy on 7 September 2017. 

This involved installing a new seabed template with four water injection wells, and represented a continuation of the well-established Ekofisk production strategy based on waterflooding.[REMOVE]Fotnote: 

The template was installed in September 2017, with a technical solution similar to that used on the seabed facilities already installed – Ekofisk 2/4 VA and 2/4 VB.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Pionér, no 2, ConocoPhillips, 2018.

In addition to the structure itself, including wellheads and Xmas trees, the installation comprised control modules with umbilicals connected to the existing waterflooding system. 

The 2/4 VC facility receives injection water from Eldfisk 2/7 E, while power and control signals come from Ekofisk 2/4 M. It is run from the Ekofisk 2/4 K control room. 

When fully developed, overall injection capacity for this subsea installation will be 80 000 barrels per day through the four wells. 

The water pipeline and umbilical to 2/4 VB were extended to 2/4 VC. Well operations on the latter began on 24 May 2018 with a view to starting injection before the end of the year. 

Published 15. October 2019   •   Updated 15. October 2019
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