Waterflooding starts from 2/4 W moduleHelicopter accident at the Ekofisk Complex

Hurricane on Ekofisk

person by Kristin Øye Gjerde, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Raging for two days, the hurricane which hit Ekofisk in December 1990 was the worst storm in living memory in these waters. Four platforms had to shut down and helicopter flights stopped.
— Stormfulle dager på Ekofsik-feltet. Foto: Husmo Foto/Norsk Oljemuseum
© Norsk Oljemuseum

Edda 2/7 C was the hardest hit. But the tank also felt the strength of the hurricane when the waves easily topped its breakwater. The maximum wave height was close to 26 metres.

Erling Ballestad, offshore installation manager on 2/4 T, reports that the storm caused the breakwater to sink 40 cm into the seabed. It has remained immovable since.

Waves washing over the edge were about 30 metres above normal sea level and destroyed equipment. The water level between breakwater and tank rose dangerously because it could not drain away fast enough. Despite substantial material damage, however, no personal injuries were fortunately suffered.

Egil Berle in the safety department recalls: ”Old stories about big waves existed from people who had sailed the North Sea, but nobody would believe how high they could be.

”When ships made it safely back to shore after a storm, you could see the damage they’d suffered. But the biggest and most dangerous waves were probably never documented, because the ship then sank.”

A number of measuring points suddenly emerged on the Ekofisk platforms, he explains. Damage high above normal sea level could clearly be identified on the structures fixed to the seabed.

”Waves hitting the tank breakwater bounced back into those behind them. These built up to even greater heights and thereby became ’freak’ waves.

”During the 1991 storm, the waves washed over the breakwater and broke over the whole tank. People sitting in the control tower over on the hotel could report that the entire structure became invisible under sea and foam for a moment.

”If the breakwater hadn’t been installed, large parts of the structure would probably have been destroyed and it could well have cost lives as well.”

Waterflooding starts from 2/4 W moduleHelicopter accident at the Ekofisk Complex
Published 24. June 2019   •   Updated 24. June 2019
© Norsk Oljemuseum
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