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Rig-Spotting – A New Tourist Fad

With the oil industry still in the doldrums, some businesses have come to the conclusion that even in such a depression fun could be had. Norwegian company Edda Accommodation, which specializes in housing for oil platform workers, has just completed its maiden rig-spotting cruise.

The tourists who signed up for the trip – all 120 of them – were not allowed to go onboard the platforms for security reasons but they nevertheless were all happy with the experience, according to the Guardian which interviewed some of them. The workers on the platforms were also apparently happy to see some visitors and greeted the cruisers with flares and water canons. One of these was the Troll A platform – one of the biggest and heaviest human-made structures in the world.

The trip lasted four days, and costs between $700 and $3,500. The high-tech vessel Edda Fides took its passengers around three offshore fields in the Norwegian part of the North Sea – Troll, Balder and Ringhorn. Then the tourists were taken further up north.

The hotel manager of the Edda Fides, Björn Erik Julseth, told the Guardian, “There was little activity, so we used our creativity to come up with ideas. We organised this trip in six weeks.” Like many other energy-related industries platform staff accommodation providers have also suffered the consequences of persistently low oil prices.”

Oil is the main source of Norway’s wealth. The price rout from the last two years has shaken up the economy pretty badly – earlier this year, the government was forced to resort to its sovereign wealth fund, worth some US$819 billion, for the first time ever. The fund was set up in better times, in 1996, and is the largest sovereign fund in the world, with investments in 9,000 companies across 75 countries.

Norway has the third-largest public spending portion in the OECD – it accounts for 60 percent of annual GDP and much of it comes from the oil industry.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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