Norwegian Oil History is 40 years old


More history in the making. The Norwegian Oil Fund has reached a milestone:


In a few days time the tow of Aasta Hansteen SPAR will commence.
It is kind of history in the making:

  • The largest SPAR in the world and the first in Norwegian waters.
  • The deepest field in Norway
  • North of the Arctic Circle. (But not the northernmost field)
  • The first time a SPAR is towed to field with the deck structure installed.
  • The largest tow in Norwegian waters since 1995.
  • A new generation key personnel performing the operation.

Here is an article from Sysla today previewing the operation:


In the article quoted above there is a link to previous large tows performed in Norwegian waters, from the 1970’s to 1997:

These are all about tow performed for Norwegian Contractors, the builders of Condeep concrete platforms,
One major towing operation that is not mentioned is the Ekofisk Barrier which was a Joint Venture between Dutch and Norwegian companies. (PECONOR)The tow and installation was performed by Nortow and Smit together in 1989:

Smit supplied two Towmasters while Knut Lussand from Solstad and Alf Giske from Farstad was towmasters for Nortow. (I was Project Mariner for the MWS team)

This was a more complex operation than the Gullfaks C or Troll A in my opinion. We had the same problem with deep draft and narrow fairway for the coastal tow, plus shallow water enroute in the North Sea, but not the problem with overhead cables across the fjords.

Our main problem was installation around the Ekofisk Centre while at full production, with pipeline going in and out at the subsided bottom and bridges to/from several other platforms.
The installation tolerance was also a lot more critical, at 7.5 cm. (not 50 m. as for Troll A) We got 3.5 Cm from ideal Zero.

PS> The picture of Knut Lussand in the “Command Container” at top of the article was actually taken during the Ekofisk Barrier tow, as can be seen from the drawing on the whiteboard.


The first towing vessel has been connected:

Video of the hookup operation:


Sysla will keep a running commentary with pictures and maybe some video of the towing operation as it progresses:


The tow is approaching the most critical point; passage under the cable fjord crossing in Langenauen. You can watch it on Marinetraffic:


They are under the cables now!!!


A little delay occurred during the night:

But they are moving again now:

Estimated to be in open waters this afternoon and changing to 4-1 tow configuration for the rest of the 500 n.mile tow up north.


The change of tow configuration took place around 0300 hrs. this morning and resulted in an interesting track line:
Now heading for the Gjoa position.


Latest on Sysla:

Forecast at Heidrun Field in the Norwegian Sea, which id close to the tow route, is for near gale (32 kts) this Saturday:

Here is the entire operation in animation:


They have reach the Aasta Hansteen field after 11 days under tow.
The anchoring operation is progressing as planned and in acceptable weather conditions:


Work are progressing. 4 mooring lines are attached:

7 lines are needed before the SPAR is secured against a 100-year storm in this area.


Latest from Aasta Hansteen today:


For a measure of the future of the oil industry, look at quoted reserves.
Thats what determines the share prices, all majors are lowering reserve numbers to shorter and shorter years.


It is not only the Aasta Hansteen tow and installation that is in the news in Norway this week.

The John Sverdrup Field development is progressing to plan, with the first topside put in place by the SSCV Thialf:

And the pipe line from Mongstad to the field starting with a land pull through the pipi tunnel being performed from the Castorone:


Another interesting towing operation along the Norwegian coast will be performed soon:

​​​​​​​Probably with less publicity though.


Then the Aasta Hansteen SPAR is moored up with 17 lines:

Ready for the riser connection to commence.


More history in the making. The Johan Sverdrup Field crewing up has commenced:

The field is expected to be in operation for 50 years.


I happened to come across your post and shared it with my dad. He worked on the JW Bates for many and years. Mentioning Bill Gifford brought back many happy memories of an unbelievable life, a fantastic adventure that most people cannot imagine. Thank you so much for sharing!


We had a couple of boats from Morgan City come down for a drilling job in the Great Southern Basin south of New Zealand in the early 70’s. They must of seen the film "South Pacific " and dressed accordingly.
One hitch and they were gone and the boats were crewed by New Zealanders.
One rig I worked with saw nothing wrong with unloading casing from the boat when the commercial airport 2 miles away was closed due to gale force winds. The airport didn’t care whether you were Chuck Yeager nothing moved in or out.