A summer cruise to the North Sea's oil rigs amazes tourists
By Ilze Filks and Gwladys Fouche
OSLO (Reuters) - Bored with palm-fringed beaches and turquoise seas? Then the gigantic oil platforms of the North Sea beckon. The first ever "rig-spotting" cruise just ended off the coast of Norway, and those onboard the four-day trip said it was jawdropping.
"I couldn't believe that these big buildings could be made," said passenger Kari Somme, 86, after seeing Statoil's STL.OL Troll A platform - the heaviest structure ever moved by mankind - towering 200 meters (650 feet) above the surface of the sea.
"It's just wonderful, just wonderful. I was so excited because I didn't know much about it. So when I came here and we went from rig to rig, or platform to platform, I was amazed," she said.
The North Sea is usually known for its cold and storms.
The group of 120 tourists, all Norwegians except for a German and a Swedish couple, paid between 6,000 crowns and 30,000 crowns ($700-$3,500) for four days on board the high tech offshore vessel Edda Fides.
The trip was organized by Edda Accommodation, a firm that provides housing for oil workers working offshore. It was looking for new ways to drum up business: oil firms are cutting costs to cope with a 60-percent drop in the price of oil since mid-2014.
"There was little activity, so we used our creativity to come up with ideas. We organized this trip in six weeks," Bjoern Erik Julseth, the hotel manager on board, told Reuters by phone.
The group toured oil installations at the Troll, Balder or Ringhorn fields. Right after this ended, a second tour departed for a trip further north to the fields of the Norwegian Sea. Continued...