Statfjord C loading buoy“North Sea Hilton” in place

Naming ceremony and an inconvenient rope

person by Trude Meland, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
The Statfjord development was virtually over in 1984, and this was to be celebrated with the naming of the C platform by Crown Princess Sonja as the proud lady sponsor. Construction of this facility had gone entirely according to plan, without delays, cost overruns or accidents. But the ceremony was dogged with mishaps.
— On May 10, 1984, Crown Princess Sonja baptized Statfjord C in Vats. Photo: Leif Berge/Equinor
© Norsk Oljemuseum

To start with, both the media and the royal party ran into problems with the lift from the helideck to the reception area in the living quarters.

After the Crown Princess had made it down, the machinery seized up completely. Some members of the naming party, including the wife of top Mobil executive Alex Massad, were left behind. Ladies in smart clothes and relatively high-heeled shoes had to negotiate the gratings on an external staircase.

Careful plans had been laid for the ceremony. To guarantee that the champagne bottle smashed on the first attempt, a steel plate with a picture of the platform and a breaking edge had been installed at the point of impact.

The top of the bottle was swathed in a kind of stocking, attached in turn to a ribbon of red, white and blue (Norway’s national colours). That was then attached to the platform where the Crown Princess and the other dignitaries were to stand. This system had been tested, and the bottle smashed each time.

However, some members of the press were taken on an inspection the evening before the big day. The platform to which the ribbon holding the bottle was attached had to be moved slightly to one side for the benefit of the photographers. But this meant that the ribbon to be cut by the Crown Princess was now at the wrong angle.

In order to restore it to the right slant, a new rope was extended from the bottle to the point where the ribbon had originally been attached. Senior safety supervisor Carl Gustav Avnsnes was commissioned to cut the extra rope at the exact moment that the Crown Princess clipped the ribbon. The system was re-tested, and everything continued to function.

During the ceremony on the following day, the ribbon and rope were both cut simultaneously. The bottle swung against the wall and the breaking edge – and swung back equally whole. Avnsnes got a new grip on the rope, released the champagne and it smashed – on the second try.

A detailed investigation revealed what had happened. A rope left hanging overnight is moistened by the dew and stretches a little. When the bottle hit the wall the first time, it was the stocking which hit the breaking edge, rather than the champagne.

Statfjord C , Dåp og et tau til besvær, engelsk,
Photo: Leif Berge/Statoil

The rest of the arrangements went off successfully, with lunch on Statfjord C and a naming dinner at the Atlantic Hall in Stavanger.

Statfjord C was towed out to the field in early June 1984. It ran into a storm en route and had to wait on weather for a couple of days in the deep water of the Norwegian Trench. By 10 June, however, it was securely installed.

Commissioning progressed rapidly, and the platform came on stream a year later. Petroleum and energy minister Kåre Kristiansen undertook the official inauguration of the Statfjord field’s final platform on 2 July 1985.

Statfjord C loading buoy“North Sea Hilton” in place
Published May 23, 2018   •   Updated December 10, 2019
© Norsk Oljemuseum
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