After Monday’s low ebb, my cousin I decided to get spirits up again. We venture downtown, starting our morning with a stop at Le Café Francais- I said I was going back, and I wasn’t lying- for our usual pain au chocolat and vanilla latte; if that couldn’t raise my mood, then meds might be the only other option. Then we decided to visit the Norwegian Oil Museum- fill our bellies with food and then our brains with knowledge!
Norway is one of the largest oil producing countries in the world, home to one of the largest offshore drilling bases in Europe- because of this Stavanger was largely unaffected by the recession.
Stavanger in particular has quite the contingent of expats, coming to Norway for- what’s said- to be the safest working conditions in the world. Stavanger’s population is largely an expat population totally about 51%- coming from Texas, Alberta, Scotland, Saudi and any other oil country you can think of. During my stay, I have learned quite a lot about the international lifestyle of the Petroleum Wives. But that is an aside from the point of today’s post- The Oil Museum!
I’ve always loved museums, they are wealth’s of knowledge; and the Oil museum did not disappoint. They have put a lot into this place and it shows; there are interactive games, short films, offshore drilling simulations, 3D films on the history of oil and so many installations, you could spend hours in there.
Being from Alberta, one would think that I would know a little about oil and the industry- which I thought I did- but I learned so much about not only the issues that the world faces in regards to oil such as war, money, the environment etc; but I also learned about the future of oil and the industry. And Norway being one of the safest places to work- in general- it was very interesting to see the type of safety measures put in place on offshore rigs- although it is the pinnacle of an Oil workers career to work offshore, safety is always a concern. We’re not fishes, so being out the middle of the ocean is a vulnerable position for any human to be in. With that being said, I COULD NEVER work on an offshore rig, the museums simulation alone was making me nauseous- I thought I was being dramatic but my cousin said the same thing- so I couldn’t ever imagine myself on an actual rig; but I think that’s the case with most women, hence the only 10% female rig workforce.
The exhibit about rig divers, I found to be the most interesting of all; diving has been largely outsourced to machines these days, but men used to dive down to 400 meters to complete rig repairs back in the day- but due to long term nervous system damage and many cases of post traumatic stress disorder, the use of human divers is largely obsolete. But the divers of the past were rig rock stars and said to have been paid in the hundreds of thousands for their work- however, still not worth it to me; what do you think?
Aside from the amazing exhibits, the museum is housed in the coolest structure, with walls of windows looking out into the seaport, with 2 waterfront cafes serving light lunch type fare and pastries. The museum has done an amazing job telling the story of Stavanger’s economic lifeblood and shedding light on an- oftentimes- misunderstood industry.
Once again, if you are in Stavanger, this is an absolute must see; and lucky for you, Le Café Francais is just down the street!