This year marks the 50th anniversary since when the first exploration well was drilled on the Norwegian shelf.
The Caspian European Club and Caspian Energy journal congratulate the Norwegian oilmen on the anniversary of the offshore petroleum industry, and provide a brief history of the Norwegian oil and gas success as well as the interview with the Director of the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, Finn E. Krogh.
In a letter of February 1958 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Geological Survey wrote that: “The chances of finding oil or sulphur on the continental shelf off the Norwegian coast can be discounted”.
In October 1962, the oil company Phillips applied for permission to conduct geological surveys in the waters off Norway.
Norwegian sovereignty over exploration for and production of natural deposits on the country’s continental shelf was proclaimed on 31 May, 1963.
In March 1965, a treaty was signed between Norway and the UK on dividing the continental shelf in accordance with the median line principle. Denmark and Norway concluded a similar treaty the same year in December.
On 19 July 1966, the Ocean Explorer semi-submersible rig started working. After reaching a depth of 3,015 metres in 84 days, the well failed to find traces of oil and gas. But cores taken during the drilling demonstrated that geological sediments were in place.
On 21 August 1969, Phillips drilled the well in the North Sea. After a few days, the well encountered a pocket in the bedrock containing gas under high pressure. Drilling continued, the pocket was plugged, and work resumed 1,000 metres further away, where a new well of “last resort” was drilled. In 1969 Phillips informed the Norwegian government that it had discovered Ekofisk – one of the largest offshore oil fields ever found.
In 1971, Ekofisk came on stream, initiating Norway’s career as a global oil producer. The field also contained huge volumes of gas, which has been piped to Germany since 1977.
In 1972, at the suggestion of the Norwegian government the Norwegian Storting voted to establish Statoil as a state-owned oil company, which is now one of the world’s largest petroleum concerns, and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.
Today the Norwegian continental shelf has a significant potential. Thus, the Johan Sverdrup field in the North Sea, where Statoil is going to start production in 2019, will secure allow stable oil production over the next 50 years.
We prefer to keep it simple – if we can! - Finn E. Krogh, Director of the Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Caspian Energy (CE): Mr. Krogh, could you please specify why namely Stavanger was chosen as a location for the Norwegian Petroleum Museum? Please tell about the most interesting in your opinion projects that the Museum will implement this year and in coming years?
Finn E. Krogh, Director of the Norwegian Petroleum Museum: Since the petroleum activities started in Norway in the mid-1960, Stavanger has been the center of the industrial activities related to oil and gas. The final breakthrough came with the discovery of the Ekofisk field in 1969, and production started in the North Sea in 1971. It was also an important political decision when the Norwegian parliament in 1972 decided to establish Statoil (the state oil company) and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate in Stavanger. Thus, Stavanger became the oil capitol of Norway. Therefore, it was natural to locate the museum to Stavanger. Of course, it was also important that the industry and the local municipality had a common interest in establishing the museum in Stavanger.
At the moment we are working on a new exhibition regarding the Norwegian Petroleum Fund. The fund was established by the Norwegian state in 1996 – and over the years it has grown to the considerable size of 7,000,000,000 NOK! This makes this state owned fund one of the largest investment funds in the world. The capital is managed by the Norwegian Bank Investment Fund. The exhibition will open on 18 May this year. In addition to this we are planning a new exhibition on petroleum geology on the Norwegian continental shelf – to be opened in 2017.
CE: What is the contribution of the Norwegian Petroleum Museum to the tourism sector of Norway?
Finn E. Krogh: The petroleum museum is one of the best visited tourist attractions in the Stavanger region. Over the last five years we have had around 100,000 guests every year. That makes us the best visited museum in the south-west part of Norway. We also cooperate with other tourist attractions in the region in order to increase public attention around the museum.
CE: What distinguishes your Museum from other similar museums in the world?
Finn E. Krogh: I think the most distinguishing feature of our museum is the fact that it has been purpose built for the specific task of reflecting the petroleum industry in Norway. As far as I know this has not yet been done to the same extent in any other petroleum producing country. From an architectural point of view the building is also very special. It is a symbolic representation of the rocky mountains of Norway, the landscape towards the ocean – and the industrial platforms offshore the coastline. This is unique!
CE: Which new technologies are currently used or planned to be used in the Museum's activities?
Finn E. Krogh: We are always looking for new ideas and technologies in our efforts to make better and more inspiring exhibitions. But the key to this is not necessarily more advanced technologies, but often proven platforms of exhibitions communication methods. Over the last years we have tried to develop many of our exhibitions into an interactive mode. That means inviting both kids and adults to participate and take actions related to the exhibition – such as answering oil and gas related questions, “escaping” through the rescue socket or wearing a real survival suite. We prefer to keep it simple – if we can!
CE: Is there is something that you would like to tell our readers about the activities of your Museum?
Finn E. Krogh: Yes, I am glad to tell you that we this year have been given the opportunity to start building our new permanent storage facility for petroleum industry related objects and equipment. This is a project we have been working on for the last five years, and finally the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has granted the museum the investment capital needed to realize the project, 62,600,000 NOK. We have now started the planning process, and the construction work will start late 2016. The new storage facility will be built in an industrial area just outside the city of Stavanger. In this way we will be in good shape to take care of the industrial heritage of the industry in the years to come.
Interview made by Olga Nagiyeva