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Hans Christen Rønnevik (1945 – 2021)

A legend in the exploration industry who leaves an impressive legacy

Hans RonnevikHans Christen Rønnevik was born in Haugesund, Rogaland, Norway on 26 June 1945. He studied at the University of Bergen and in 1971 graduated with a PhD in Geology.

Hans joined the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in Oslo in 1972, before moving to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate Stavanger in late 1972. He published extensively on offshore structural geology using the early 2-dimensional surveys. In 1983, Saga Petroleum Norway invited Hans to be Exploration Director.


Hans oversaw exploration on all parts of the Norwegian Continental Shelf, including Snorre, Haltenbanken’s Midgard and Kristin Lavrans—the latter of which was a bold decision to explore. In 1984, I first observed Hans' ability to question everything when discussing with him late into a summer evening the relinquishment of a block north of the giant Snorre. Not one subsurface stone was left unturned in his quest to understand what trap geometry might be hidden in the 2D seismic. Despite his work ethos, Hans put everything into life.
In 2000, after Saga was acquired by Norsk Hydro, Hans moved to DNO. In 2003, he was invited to Lundin Norway as Exploration Director where he continued in his unshakeable belief that there were more "elephants" to be found on the Norwegian shelf (Statfjord1974, Gullfaks1978, Oseberg1979 and Troll1979 had been discovered in the 1970s). It was Hans’ exploration skill and thinking that underpinned the discovery of the Utsira High Edvard Grieg (Luno) in 2007, followed shortly after in 2010 by Avaldsnes, now known as the “super giant” Johan Sverdrup.

Sharing and dialogue

Hans believed the best solutions emerged through dialogue, discussion and sharing of data and knowledge, that "everyone sees a part of reality, but no one sees it all". Area Exploration Teams would go offsite and participate in shared learning. In 1996, Saga’s SNS Area Team ventured to Svalbard and it is therefore no surprise that Lundin Energy Norway explorers discovered the Gotha-Alta karstified Permian oil fields on the Loppa High in 2013 – 2014.

In 2016, at the North Sea cross borders symposium on Paleozoic structural highs held at the Geological Society, Hans shared the Johan Sverdrup story with a full house.

Hans received distinguished Norwegian honorary awards and was internationally recognised with the AAPG Norman Foster Award. In 2019, he was honoured by H.M. The King and appointed Knight of the 1st Class of the Order of St. Olav, for his efforts in petroleum geology that contributed to value creation to the Norwegian State.

Hans was advising on the NCS 25 Round work programmes until 21 December 2020 when he was forced to check in to the doctors to learn he had terminal cancer. On 28 January 2021, Lundin Energy Norway announced that Hans Christen Rønnevik had passed away. The subsurface community has lost a true great.  

By John Wood

Image: Hans Christen Rønnevik [1945 – 2021] wearing the medal Knight of the 1st Class of the Order of St. Olav and received from H.M. The King Olav, 2019. (Credit: Lundin Energy Norway)