“Ekofisk is unique,” says curator Björn Lindberg at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum in Stavanger. “It was Norway’s first commercial find, and one of the very largest.

“It’s been on stream for almost 50 years, but still has a long future. The field is special in many ways, so preserving and documenting its history is important.”

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This work began in the early 2000s, in connection with a redevelopment of the field with new platforms and the removal of 14 old facilities from the greater Ekofisk area.

In line with Norway’s Cultural Heritage Act, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage called for the field’s industrial heritage to be documented. That job was given to the petroleum museum.

Installing the Ekofisk 2/4 K water injection platform in 1986. Water flooding has helped to maintain reservoir pressure. Photo: Industriminne Ekofisk

Giant

This was a demanding assignment, since developing Ekofisk and the other fields in the vicinity represented a giant industrial undertaking.

It has included more than 30 platforms, a concrete storage tank, long export pipelines, and big terminals for crude oil, natural gas liquids and gas in the UK and Germany.

All these facilities have been in operation to recover hydrocarbons from the chalk reservoirs in the Ekofisk area and bring them to market.

“We couldn’t preserve any of these installations in full scale,” explains Kristin Øye Gjerde, senior historian at the museum and manager of the Ekofisk industrial heritage project.

“They’re too large for that. But what can’t be conserved can nevertheless be documented.”

Updated

The heritage project originally ran until 2004. As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, however, the museum has updated and expanded it with new material.

This collection details the technological progress made, important sub-projects, historical incidents and milestones, and developments in HSE.

In addition come materials covering a good deal of the debate conducted over the field as well as key decisions and political choices.

A great many written sources, such as books, reports and journals, have been digitalised and made available over the internet along with more than 5 000 photographs.

The latter document various aspects of the field’s history from the pioneering days to the present. Film materials have also been conserved.

Iconic

The museum’s Ekofisk-related exhibits include a number of iconic objects, including the bit used by Ocean Viking when its drill string penetrated the reservoir on 25 October 1969.

Among others are an original Xmas tree – set of valves – used for the test production phase in 1971 and an authentic driller’s cabin from the Ekofisk 2/4 A platform.

On the quay outside the shoreside museum can also be seen one of the giant jacks used in 1987 to raise a number of Ekofisk facilities threatened by seabed subsidence over the field.

Jacking up the Ekofisk 2/4 R riser platform in 1987. Raising this and other facilities was a key technological achievement in the field’s history. Photo: Industriminne Ekofisk

Interviews

Another large and important part of the collection comprises interviews conducted by Gjerde and her colleagues with eyewitnesses high and low.

These range from old drill floor workers and union leaders to offshore installation managers and office workers. Collectively, they relate a colourful history of pioneering work, comradeship, engineering achievements and serious incidents.

“These accounts provide a picture of the work culture which has prevailed out there, and a good insight into how things have changed,” says Gjerde.

She highlights such aspects as the way safety thinking has become integrated and ingrained for employees today.

“Documenting Ekofisk has been an important assignment,” notes Lindberg. He points out that the field has played a central role in Norwegian history over the past half-century.

“This is also Norway’s oil story in miniature. The discovery of Ekofisk initiated an era without compare, and has since made its mark on virtually all aspects of Norwegian society.

“As the first field to be developed on the NCS, it has become a symbol. It’s also a significant part of our history in purely monetary terms.”

Documented

Ekofisk was the first industrial heritage project at the museum, but has since been followed by Frigg, Statfjord, Valhall and Draugen – all documented both digitally and physically.

Apart from Frigg, all these fields are still on stream, and Lindberg emphasises the importance of getting the work started early enough.

“We’re not writing obituaries for these fields. The documentation work needs to start at the right time, preferably while they’re still producing and the sources are available.

“If we get involved too late, when only a few people are left and the field is shutting down, it’s much more difficult to tell the whole story and provide a correct picture.”

Read the whole story of Ekofisk in English at hhttps://ekofisk.industriminne.no/en/home/

Dialogue article

This article has been taken from our Dialogue journal, which aims to encourage debate on some of the most relevant issues and challenges faced by the industry in the safety area.