“I can cover the North Sea from here to the North Pole with oil.”
This exclamation is attributed to the chief driller on Ocean Viking when he and his crew made the discovery which initiated Norway’s Oil Age 50 years ago. The Ekofisk find brought with it jobs, engineering achievements and the start of a big new industry. That is worth celebrating.
But oil has not only meant prosperity and growth. The new industry also had a dark side which put big burdens on individuals and society in the form of accidents and serious incidents.
“Mayday, Mayday – Kielland is capsizing.”
It will be 40 years this spring since that distress call was sent from the Alexander L Kielland flotel. That disaster by the Edda platform in the Ekofisk area cost 123 lives and ranks as the worst accident in Norway’s oil history.
However, stricter requirements and regulations followed in the wake of this and other accidents in order to make the industry safer and more secure.
With a clear allocation of responsibility and a strict government regime, a good basis was created for the level of safety we have today.
But the price we had to pay was high.