A couple of years ago the main airline in Scandinavia SAS started a route between Huston and Stavanger with only business class seats. At first this might seem like a pretty strange route to open – just how many people will be travelling between a big town in Texas and a minor city in Norway? You would think not many – but Stavanger is the main base serving the offshore industry in Norway and the main base for the Norwegian oil industry in general. Hence a service connecting the main oil city in USA with the main oil city in Europe might make sense since a lot of people in the oil industry will have business at both cities.
The importance of the oil industry in Stavanger and its role in the Norwegian oil industry made the city the natural place for the location of a museum telling the story of the Norwegian oil industry.
The museum is the main museum of the city and you can go and visit for the admission fee of 150 NOK. There are certain discounts if you have bought a ticket for the other museums in Stavanger.
The museum tells the story of how oil was created and how the oil industry was started in Stavanger. If you got some interest in geology or large machinery you should find the museum pretty interesting.
There are also some special items on display like one old bottle of syrup which were used to transport the first oil found off shore in Norway to the shore since the people searching for oil didn’t have any other form of storage to actually transport the oil from the exploration platform.
In the museum you find some exhibition of the specialized equipment you use when drilling for oil off shore. There is a collection of drill heads including what is supposedly the biggest in the world. Another exhibition is about the deep sea divers who have been doing some highly risky work and extreme depth to actually make it possible to transport the oil from a platform out in the middle of the North Sea to the Norwegian shores. There are a lot of large underwater suits and mini submarines on display.
They also have some miniature oil rigs on display. You can see how the platforms have changed significantly over the years. In the beginning the platforms were simple and could only drill for oil at a fairly shallow depth – but over the years the technology improved and the oil rigs where changed so they could drill for oil at increasing depth.
A small exhibition is about the large catastrophes which have hit the Norwegian oil industry when a platform collapsed killing more than a hundred people. The accidents led the way for improvements in safety onboard the oil rigs which has helped the safety on the oil rigs in Norway and also around the globe. As part of this exhibition you can see what a rescue capsule for an oilrig looks like. It doesn’t look very comfortable – but it is certainly better than the alternative of having to possibly be floating around in stormy North Sea waters after an accident.
To show they have heard about the climate debate the museum has dedicated a special section to the effect of the oil industry on the emission of CO2 to the atmosphere and the museum tells about the consequences of rising temperatures.
I found the museum pretty interesting and a good place to spend some hours on a rainy day when Stavanger seem pretty bleak and not a place you want to spend too much time wondering around the wet streets.