Here’s how Equinor employees are innovating to improve safety and sustainability.

And in the process, we’re saving money.

In Equinor, we have a long-standing tradition that the best safety and sustainability projects compete for the CEO award. 48 ideas, projects and intiatives were nominated for this year’s prize. 

Nurturing good ideas see the light of day is essential to the vitality of an energy company. Flourishing innovation can help us work more safely, reduce emissions and improve profitability. Here are the five finalists for this year’s CEO Award.

1. How Hammerfest LNG saved 120,000 tonnes of CO2 in one summer

Last summer’s maintenance work on the Hammerfest LNG plant reduced our annual CO2 emissions by 120,000 tonnes and cut costs by NOK 55 million.


In the summer of 2017, the LNG plant at Melkøya outside of Hammerfest in Northern Norway was scheduled to close for planned maintenance—a so-called turnaround. Well before this closure, we had started the hunt for good ideas that could reduce energy consumption at the plant.

The employees went through the plant piece-by-piece to identify any areas where energy was being wasted. A specially-developed energy dashboard that shows the energy consumption of every component in the process was particularly helpful in this process. 

Redesigned a valve 

Energy Coordinator Roger Stenvoll was responsible for collecting all the ideas that involved process adjustments and technical modifications. Geir Hansen in the process department came up with the idea of adjusting the design of a valve. 

“When we need to shut down the plant for safety reasons, we have to flare (burn off) some of the gas," says Stenvoll.

One of the suggestions was to modify the main valve that regulates the gas flow into the plant. The modification allowed the valve to close faster, and the CO2 emissions associated with this operation are reduced by 1,000 tonnes of CO2 every time we shut down the plant,” he says.


Furthermore, one of the five gas turbines could be shut down in periods when additional power could be obtained from the grid, in cooperation with Statnett.

An LNG-plant is a power-intensive operation, but during the turnaround last summer, power consumption was reduced by approximately 20 MW, giving a significant reduction in emissions from power generation and having a positive impact on our overall carbon accounting.

Harald Petersen
Unni Fjær is the manager of the plant at Melkøya. She says that the employees have worked hard to reduce the consumption of energy.


Saved NOK 55 million 

“The effect of the measures we implemented during the turnaround last summer resulted in an annual reduction of 120,000 tonnes of CO2. This also reduced our expenses by NOK 55 million,” says Stenvoll. 

On the hunt for CO

He stresses that an important prerequisite for such work is employees with the right expertise and the desire to hunt for CO2 reductions. 

ventil hammerfest-16-9.jpg
This valve was modified during the turnaround. The work performed by this team resulted in the emission of 1,000 tonnes of CO2 less every time one needed to flare for safety reasons

Most efficient LNG plant 

The plant at Melkøya has long been the world's most energy-efficient LNG plant, as well as being the only plant in the world that captures and stores CO2 from the wellstream. However, thats’s no reason to rest on our laurels. 

“Obviously it’s very motivating when we see results like this, and I’m sure that we will come up with even more exciting ideas to reduce our energy consumption further in future,” says plant manager Unni Fjær. 

The will to improve 

The team at Hammerfest LNG hopes that they can be of inspiration to other plants. A strong focus on reducing emissions and improving efficiency has proven to create a sense of pride and solidarity, reduce wear on equipment and cut costs at the same time.

2. Kristin wants to put a stop to hearing impairment in Norway’s oil industry—with QuietPro earphones

Did you know that a lot of people actually don’t know the correct way to insert earphones into their ears? Our QuietPro earphones are an important step towards avoiding hearing impairments.

Ole Jørgen Bratland
Kristin Brørs demonstrates how to insert the earphones. One of the tricks is to grasp the top of your ear to open it up properly so that the plug fits comfortably inside your ear canal.

Picture that you’re working on a helideck, or in a process area in a plant or on an oil platform. Inevitably it’s noisy—and in some cases, even with the best protection, it’s hard to eliminate noise altogether.

Hearing impairment—a challenge for the industry 

Hearing impairment has been a significant challenge in the oil industry, and it’s something that Acoustician Kristin Brørs and Project Manager Aleksander Bruvik Myrlid have worked with a lot in recent years. QuietPro started out as a research project with SINTEF, the largest independent research organisation in Scandinavia, and continued in Equinor. Familiar noise cancelling technology was augmented with more and more functions, so that the final package is significantly more advanced. 

Noise cancellation and radio communication 

“They have a microphone near the eardrum that monitors the noise level you are exposed to and alerts you when necessary; they also measure noise on the outside of the earphone, they have counter-sound technology, they monitor if they are properly fitted, they have an integrated hearing test (not implemented in Equinor yet); and they have radio communication and good sound reduction,” says Kristin Brørs, listing the properties of QuietPro hearing protection.


Hearing protection that warns you 

They almost look like perfectly normal earphones of the type you listen to music with, but they are connected to a little box that hides a secret. 

Data is recorded throughout the day, and when you are finished, you connect the equipment to a computer and find out how much noise you have been exposed to. 

What’s more, the hearing protection device will warn you if you are approaching your daily noise limit. You can talk to colleagues close by with the listening function, but if there is a loud noise or the noise level increases, the listening function will turn off automatically. 

Aiming to prevent hearing impairment 

For Kristin Brørs and her team, it has been important to reduce the risk of hearing impairment, but also that noise does not represent an obstacle to performing any necessary work. 

“It’s a major advantage to go about your work without having to worry about permanent hearing damage,” she says. 

Marketed by Honeywell 

QuietPro is currently being commercialised and prepared for worldwide sales by Honeywell, and Equinor is the first company to actively implement use of the earphones on our installations. Now we are working to integrate the solution into earmuffs. 

“There are always a few problems with the fit, and users are not used to hearing protection designed to be inserted so deep inside their ears, but we’re working on it,” says Brørs. 

She explains enthusiastically that they are far more than just modern headphones, they are a tool that safeguards hearing and makes daily work life more flexible. The defence, construction and agriculture industries have been identified as possible areas of use for the future. 

“One of my goals is to put an end to work-related hearing impairment on the Norwegian continental shelf. We must simply put an end to it,” she says determinedly.

3. Interdisciplinary collaboration for safer injection wells

Underground fractures represent a significant risk to drilling and injection offshore. Frode Uriansrud gathered experts from various disciplines to help improve safety and environmental performance.

It might look like an intricate Norwegian rose painting pattern, but it’s actually an image of the pipelines and subsea installations of the Tordis field. At the far right, a crater has formed due to leakages on the seabed. Experience from this incident is being used to prevent such occurrences from happening again.


When you drill for oil and gas underground, large quantities of rock pieces, so-called cuttings, are produced. Instead of transporting large volumes of stone to shore, which would be costly, one solution is to pump it down again for storage underground.

Problems can occur 

For many years, and in most cases, such injection wells worked well, and the waste is stored near the source. However, sometimes cracks occur underground, and cuttings can rise to the surface. This happened at the Tordis field in 2008 and at Veslefrikk in 2009. This was something that project manager Frode Uriansrud was determined to avoid in the future. 

Cross-disciplinary expert group

He gathered a group of experts from various specialist disciplines in Equinor to form the Advisory Group Injection (AGI), which gathered data, analysed errors and filled new models with data from actual incidents. 

Christian Djupvik Brandt-Hansen
AGI team: Back from left: Alv Borge, Rock Mechanics Lindis Åslid, Production Technology Lars Petter Myhre, Environmental Monitoring & Risk Assessment Frode Uriansrud, Geology and competence group leader AGI Hilde Anfindsen, Production Technology Ole Kristian Søreide, Leading Advisor Rock Mechanics Trine Annie Stavholt, Leading Advisor Well integrity

There was a lot to do, but gradually they began to see that the new models and new calculations could provide information that could be of great importance to safety and the environment. 

“It's very rewarding to see the results,” says Uriansrud. 

He can talk about drilling and injection wells for many hours, and he is eager to show that they have brought out the best from all the disciplines involved when drilling injection wells. 

“It’s thanks to interdisciplinary collaboration that we have achieved it,” he adds. 

The idea was straightforward and effective: to establish a cross-disciplinary group to ensure that all experience and learning from past events was taken into account when planning new wells.

The spikes below in the picture are cuttings, or rock pieces on the Njord field, which have come up through the seabed and created small formations. The data that tells how this has happened is invaluable to preventing it from happening again
Equinor/Christian Djupvik Brandt-Hansen
This is what it looks like when Frode Uriansrud (rear right) and the rest of the AGI group meet to plan new injection wells with expert help from all the disciplines.

Cross-disciplinary approach reveals weaknesses 

Geologists, geophysicists, well experts, production experts, those who monitor the environment and experts in rock mechanics now sit down together to plan each injection well thoroughly in advance. Because even if the underground and planned wells look predictable and reliable, it often turns out that new surveys reveal weaknesses. Finding weaknesses before we drill saves money and makes everything safer. 

“This is something that everyone who drills and injects underground has to deal with, and we think it is especially gratifying when other companies start to ask us what we have done,” says Uriansrud. 

Our most expensive operations 

Offshore drilling and injection are extremely expensive operations, and require good risk comprehension. When committed professionals across the various disciplines immerse themselves in problems and collaborate, good ideas often result.

4. Gina Krog: 15 million working hours without serious injury

It took 15 million working hours to build the Gina Krog platform, many of them at the shipyard in South Korea and in challenging conditions offshore. We achieved it without a single serious injury.

Photo: Ben Weller/Equinor

Workplace safety regulations can be comprehensive, and particularly so at shipyards and on oil platforms. Getting people to follow the rules can be a challenge, though—and especially when the goal is to get an entire workforce to adopt a safety culture. 

So how did we get the workers on a project like Gina Krog with many millions of working hours to work as one team?

The answer was the safety programme Safety Ambassadors. 

A common understanding 

“You can have lots of rules and regulations, but in the end, it’s all about a common understanding and the will to deliver. We emphasised the idea of being one team, and worked to ensure that we had committed and dedicated managers present at all times. This was a new approach for the Korean shipyard workers,” says Frode Haldorsen. 

“The key point was to make sure that everyone shared a common safety mind-set, and that it wasn’t just the responsibility of the HSE manager. Everyone was made responsible as a safety ambassador, and every single person is essential to safety.” 

Safety culture was the backbone of Gina Krog 

When a modern oil platform is built, it is often designed in one location, the substructure is built in another, and everything is assembled in a third. And that’s even before you hook up everything offshore.

“We wanted to make people feel that they were all building a cathedral together, not individual chapels,” says Jess Milter, who was platform manager during the start-up. 

Frode Haldorsen

15 million working hours 

Jess Milter and Frode Haldorsen are eager to explain how this project differed from others. And it’s more than just a gut feeling that the project was a success—the numbers back it up too. The entire project with its 15 million working hours was carried out without any serious injuries. 

Challenges with the working culture 

The topsides for Gina Krog were built in South Korea, at a giant shipyard where tens of thousands of workers are simultaneously building multiple ships and platforms. They are proud of their jobs, but they are used to a strictly hierarchical and management-driven work culture, so the non-hierarchical Norwegian approach can be a challenge for them. 

“It was a question of preparing thoroughly and talking with others who have carried out projects in Korea to find out what does and doesn’t work in Korea,” says Haldorsen.

One-on-one meetings 

And they quickly realized that personal one-to-one meetings were important. Because it was easier to talk when there were two people present, and with an understanding that if there was something that did not work, they could share this with the Norwegian clients—an approach which was new to them. 

For those working on the project, this could be something as simple as being more attentive to missing items, or discovering a misplaced ladder on their way to another task. And then reporting it.

Ole Jørgen Bratland
Jess Milter feels that the team spirit in the Gina Krog project from the beginning to the present day has been quite unique.

Teamwork from A to Z 

When we reached the phase were everything was to be assembled offshore, the good foundation established through the one-team mindset came into its own. And Jess, who was platform manager during the completion phase, stresses that it was a unique experience to be part of a project in which a safety mindset and team spirit permeated everything from beginning to end.

5. Replacement of a nozzle on Gullfaks B saved millions and reduced the use of chemicals 

Halving the use of a chemical not only means lower expenses, it also means less risk of exposure. On Gullfaks B, they reduced the need, increased production and saved both money and the environment.

Equinor/Marte Bjørnsdotter
Maria Lioliou and Ida Strømsvåg from process technology in R&T test injection equipment at the Research Centre in Trondheim.

When exploring for and producing oil and gas from underground deposits, inevitably things are produced that you do not need or want. Quite commonly this can be water, or chemical compounds such as hydrogen sulphide, or H2S. This common, odorous gas is created by rotting organic materials and is common when operating underground, in manure cellars, sewage systems or in brackish water. 

To reduce concentrations of hydrogen sulphide in natural gas, a chemical H2S scavenger is used to break down the chemical compound. The challenge then is to use as little of these chemicals as possible. 

Increased use 

However, over the years, the amount of H2S in the gas has increased, while oil production has declined, making the H2S remover less effective. The solution was to rethink how the chemical scavenger was used. 


“You could say that we injected the chemical with a garden hose in the past, but now we use a fine shower head that crushes the drops and they therefore mix much better into the gas. We therefore use much less of the H2S scavenger chemical now, says Leif Inge Sandven, production manager on Gullfaks B. 


This means that Gullfaks B has halved the use of the chemical, and therefore the cost as well. At the same time, those working on exposure to chemicals. In addition, they have been able to reduce the environmental impact of the platform and increase oil production.

Operations and Maintenance Leader Jørgen Herland and Process Operator Rolf Henning Hermansen in front of the new injection nozzle.

New method developed 

But this did not occur without help. Production Engineer Øystein Lee Aasen quickly realised that there was a need for help from other parts of the company. He contacted the Research and Development Department in Trondheim, and in cooperation with the installation integrity and external environment engineers, they devised a new methodology. And it’s the collaboration across the various disciplines that makes the solution work so well. 

“We are delighted to have been involved in the development, as well as the actual testing and use on the installation,” says Maria G. Lioliou in the Research and Development Department. 

The technology has been implemented for the first time on Gullfaks B, and the good results here open the possibility for use on many other platforms. The solution has been so well received that it has now been incorporated into Equinor’s technical requirements and the next version of the NORSOK standard.

Leif Inge Sandven

For the Safety and Security Award:

  • Gina Krog Project
  • Development and implementation of QuietPro hearing protection.

For the Sustainability Award:

  • Hammerfest LNG Energy Efficiency
  • Reduction of Chemical Use on Gullfaks B.

For both awards:

  • The Safe Injection Project, AGI.

A total of 48 nominations were received for the awards that may be given to individuals, groups, suppliers or others who work for Equinor. They were evaluated in accordance with the following criteria: 

  • The initiative contributes to improving the company’s safety, security and sustainability results. 
  • It expresses innovation, learning and collaboration. 
  • It contributes positively to Equinor's reputation
  • It can be utilised by other parts of Equinor
  • It contributes to increased value creation for Equinor.