Lessons learned?

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Name plate from the Alexander L. Kielland

The aftermath of the Ekofisk blowout sparked new concerns about the safety and, above all, the environmental impact of offshore oil production.

Ninety-five hundred tons of oil had been spilled into the very center of the North Sea, most of which could not be collected. Ultimately, the oil seems to have dispersed before it hit land. In spite of the fact that "current cards" released at the time of the disaster had reached the coast of the Netherlands, oil apparently never did. Nevertheless, stricter regulation for oil wells was adopted, including a stipulation that crew have separate accommodation off of the platform.

As it turned out, this change had its own risks. In 1980, the floating hotel platform, the "Alexander Kielland," capsized in a heavy storm, killing 123 people. Faulty design had led to weak supports that eventually failed in the storm.

How to cite this page


Alexander Badenoch, 'Lessons learned?', Inventing Europe, http://www.inventingeurope.eu/story/lessons-learned


  1. Kvendseth, Stig S. Giant Discovery: A History of Ekofisk Through the First 20 Years. Phillips Petroleum Company Norway, 1988.

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High-risk ventures: Ekofisk and the dawn of North Sea oil

Developing the North Sea as a source of oil and gas was a complicated process. Multi-national petroleum firms negotiated with national governments to divide up the ocean floor and develop the necessary technologies. The Ekofisk field, which belonged to Norway, became the first field to be exploited. It soon became clear that while drilling rights could be divided, exploiting North Sea oil was a risk shared by all parties.

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The Alexander L. Kielland platform

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