Bjørnar Svenning

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Bjørnar Svenning
Bjoernar Svenning headshot.png
Latest company Statoil
MSc Electronics
MSc university Norwegian Institute of Technology

Bjørnar Svenning and his colleagues Eivind Berg, James Martin are being honored with the Kauffman Gold Medal for demonstrating that high-quality, high-density marine shear-wave data can be acquired by recording converted waves at the seabed. The three Statoil employees presented this work at the 1994 EAEG (now EAGE) Annual Meeting and sparked an explosion of activity and advancement in marine converted-wave seismic technology.


Bjørnar completed his master’s in electronics at The Norwegian Institute of Technology in Trondheim. He joined the newly established research department of Statoil in Trondheim in 1983. Bjørnar he had been working for some years with sonar, manipulators, and other equipment found on remotely operated vehicles in Bennex. His ambition in his new position was to merge technology into the new area of subsea production technology which then was in its childhood. The general idea was to bring well-known platform technology down to the seabed, without changing the basics too much. Bjørnar was convinced that, instead of using divers or surface vessels, large submarines would be much more suitable for the tasks. This “vision” was deeply rooted within Bjørnar’s mind and personality. He headed several projects in the years 1983-88 to develop concepts for using submarines in the offshore industry. Several patents were accepted. The latest and best-documented concept was the MASU or modular autonomous service underwater vehicle. MASU was designed for cost-efficient installation and intervention on subsea production systems.

However, the industry being quite conservative, it was completely impossible to realize this technology. Most people would have given up after a short time. But Bjørnar is a person who generates more power the more resistance he faces.Thanks to him, submarine ideas were kept alive for several years, developing and waiting for the right time. Then, one day in 1988, Bjørnar met Eivind Berg. The two researchers, both working in Statoil’s research department but in quite different areas, had never met but they soon found they complemented each other in an almost perfect manner. Eivind suddenly had someone that could help him designing equipment and seabed seismic operations, while Bjørnar suddenly found an application for his “submarine vision.” Soon the SUbsea seisMIC project (SUMIC) was born. Now the real challenge started. For several years they worked with a small group (Bjarne Bugten, Tormod Hals, Kurt Nilsen and a few others) that struggled to develop and make a product of their invention. The general conservatism in the industry was hard to conquer. At this point Statoil decided to commercialize the technology in cooperation with an external partner. These facts were difficult to swallow for Bjørnar and Eivind, being addicted to SUMIC for quite a while. They decided to leave the company, to ensure that the technology was developed further, under their own leadership.Bjørnar and Eivind have been awarded the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for their hard work.