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Norwegian royalty offshore

April 19, 2007, 04:00 CEST

When Norway's King Harald traveled offshore to Oseberg along with Austria's President Dr. Heinz Fischer on Thursday, it was not the first time Norwegian royals visited installations where Hydro has an ownership share. The Norwegian royal family have shown their interest in this sector of industry on a range of occasions.

The first Norwegian royal to don a survival suit was King Olav. This happened when he officially inaugurated the Frigg field, on 8 May 1978 – one of the few fair-weather days that spring. The following day, the expedition moved on to St. Fergus in Scotland, where Queen Elizabeth officially opened the transport system and terminal on British soil.

King Olav was to play the main role in another inauguration – in 1988. This time, the field in question was Oseberg. True enough, age regulations prevented the king himself from making the helicopter trip to the field, but there was no less ceremony than in 1978, since the event was marked both on Sture and at Øygarden community centre.

Science fiction on Troll B

After that, seven years passed before the next royal visit to a Hydro platform. By lightly pressing a little button, King Harald was able to open Troll Oil on Tuesday 5 December 1995. Prior to the ceremony, the king, cabinet minister Grete Knudsen and almost 40 other guests were shown around the platform by Hydro’s President and CEO Egil Myklebust and platform manager Trond Bendiksen.

In his speech, King Harald drew parallels to Jules Verne and his visions of the future. The king reflected over the fact that just a few years earlier, few people believed that the thin oil layers beneath the gas layers on the Troll field could be exploited. In that sense, it had only been in Jules Verne’s science fiction works that such things were possible.

But at the time of the official opening, the oil stream into the processing plant on Troll B had already been flowing for almost three months.

Double royal visit

There was a double royal visit to Oseberg Field Centre on Wednesday 12 April, 2000. On that occasion, King Abdullah II of Jordan, accompanied by King Harald, visited the Field Centre as part of the official Jordanian state visit to Norway.

On Oseberg, the royals were welcomed by platform manager Trygve Ågotnes and Hydro’s President and CEO Egil Myklebust, before Hydro’s Senior Vice President Johan Kr. Mikkelsen gave a briefing on activities. After that, the kings and their entourages were given a guided tour of Oseberg A and B.

Two days earlier, King Abdullah and Queen Rania, two princes, Jordan’s prime minister and an entourage of almost 500 people had begun their visit to Norway. Breakfast hosted by Hydro at the manor Vækerø Hovedgård was also on the agenda. Here, the Jordanian king was presented with historical Jordanian manuscripts restored by the University Library in Oslo, at Hydro’s expense.

Crown Prince on Grane

The most recent royal offshore visit before King Harald accompanying the Austrian President Dr. Heinz Fischer to Oseberg Field Centre was when Crown Prince Haakon officially opened the Grane field on Thursday 6 November 2003.

Here, the Crown Prince continued a tradition that began when King Olav opened Oseberg in 1988, and was followed up by King Harald’s opening of the Troll B platform in 1995.

On this occasion, in addition to the main protagonist - the Crown Prince, participants included Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Einar Steensnæs, and representatives of the Norwegian authorities and the most important suppliers to the Grane project.

Oil production from the Grane platform commenced on 23 September 2003, three weeks ahead of schedule and way below budget.

"An important reason for this is the thorough work carried out in the design phase, and the close collaboration between Hydro, our partners and the authorities," Hydro’s President and CEO Eivind Reiten commented, in connection with the Grane opening in 2003.