In 2020, it is 40 years since the Alexander L Kielland disaster. Through videos and reports, we explain how this accident led to improvements in safety – and its significance for today’s work on safe operation.

Video: The Kielland legacy


“This was a turning point not only for the industry but also for the whole country,” observes Myhrvold. “We’ve worked differently on safety since 1980 –  on regulatory roles, development of the regulations and not least clarifying the responsibility of the companies. They’re the ones responsible for safety – every single day.

“Although much safety work had also been done before the Kielland, this disaster revealed weaknesses with emergency preparedness, training, the division of responsibility, regulation and government follow-up.

“Important and lasting changes and improvements were therefore made to the regime in the following years.”

Myhrvold says the long-term consequences were very considerable. “Large parts of the safety regime were reviewed and reshaped. Changes to the regulations and the division of responsibility form the basis for today’s system and the high level of safety we now enjoy.”

Great value

The specific lessons from the disaster have long since been followed up, she notes. “But Kielland still has great value, and illustrates the huge consequences a major accident can have – for individuals and families, for the industry and for society. It shows what can go wrong when safety and emergency preparedness are inadequate. “

Photo of Anne Myhrvold
“It is our duty to learn from the Alexander L Kielland disaster – and other incidents – and to apply these lessons in such a way that we can avoid a new major accident,” says Anne Myhrvold, director general of the PSA. Photo: Marie von Krogh

Myhrvold emphasises the importance of the long-term systematic efforts being devoted to prevention and improvement.

“We see that much good work is being done to improve safety, but we nevertheless still witness serious incidents,” she says. “Some of these have been very critical, and it would not have taken much to turn them into a major accident.

“That means we can’t be satisfied. We must work better throughout. The companies must constantly make systematic efforts to avoid things going wrong.”

She says they must think about what has to be in place, what risk is associated with their actions, and what barriers must be in place to avoid things developing in the wrong direction.

“They must also ask themselves whether they are taking an integrated approach to humans, technology and organisation, and whether their solutions are sufficiently robust to cope with the unforeseen. Work on these and other issues related to improving safety is crucial.

“It’s our duty to learn from Kielland and other incidents, and to use these lessons in such a way that we avoid a new major accident.”

Read how the Kielland disaster has influenced safety