When Helge Lund, Statoil chief executive, received a phone call late one Friday afternoon last month, he braced for an unpleasant surprise.
“Usually, when someone calls the CEO at that time it’s because they want to offload some kind of problem before the weekend,” he says.
Helge Lund, centre, on a recent North Sea tour: the Norwegian oil industry has suffered several years of declining production and patchy exploration
Instead, the voice on the line delivered some of the best news of Mr Lund’s entire seven-year leadership of the Norwegian oil group.
It was Tim Dodson, Statoil’s head of exploration, calling to inform his boss of what turned out to be the biggest oil discovery off Norway since the 1980s and among the largest made anywhere in the world this year.
“Usually, the core from a new well is almost solid rock but this one was so full of oil it was almost spilling out,” says Mr Lund. “The atmosphere on the rig when they saw that coming up was fantastic.”