Hurricane prompts evacuationUpset stomachs on Ekofisk

An end to shared cabins

person by Trude Meland
A long-standing quarrel between the offshore workforce and the ConocoPhillips management was finally laid to rest in March 2008, when sharing of sleeping quarters ended on Ekofisk.
— Co-sleeping at Ekofisk. Foto: Husmo Foto/Norwegian Petroleum Museum
© Norsk Oljemuseum

The field’s working environment committee, which counted top management in the company among its members, decided in October 2007 that all cabins should be single occupancy from then on.

Employees had argued for many years that making offshore workers keep each other awake with body sounds and odours represented a safety hazard. If somebody had to get up to answer a call of nature in the middle of the night, they could easily risk waking the occupant of the other bunk. From now on, each worker would sleep alone.

This was achieved by increasing capacity on accommodation rigs (flotels), splitting cabins in two with a wall, and better planning of jobs done offshore.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Stokka, Odd Kristian, “Slutt på samsoving fra 1. mars 2008”, Stavanger Aftenblad, 9 October 2007.

Shared sleeping quarters had been a controversial issue not only on Ekofisk, but across the whole Norwegian continental shelf. However, the importance of rest and restitution for working prudently and safely became increasingly clear in the late 1990s.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Norwegian Oil Industry Association. Light at the end of the tunnel – for the Norwegian petroleum industry as well? Business trend report 2009.

New regulations for health, safety and the environment introduced on 1 January 2002 made it clear that all personnel had to be able to sleep undisturbed and normally alone.

A White Paper that year stated:

The new HSE regulations make it clear that the requirement for necessary rest and restitution means that all personnel must be able to sleep undisturbed and normally alone. The ministry assumes that the operator companies will also facilitate this as far as possible in practice on existing facilities by exploiting available capacity and planning to implement activities in line with available accommodation capacity.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Ministry of Labour and Government Administration. Report no 7 (2001-2002) to the Storting Om helse, miljø og sikkerhet i petroleumsvirksomheten.

When this issue was considered by the standing committee on local government in the Storting (parliament), it found that financial cutbacks had worsened accommodation conditions offshore. It also took the view that a safety risk was posed if workers failed to get acceptable rest and quiet. Giving everyone the opportunity to sleep alone was important, and something the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) should follow up.

Ensuring that personnel were rested when they started work was the operator’s responsibility – and in its own interest. Shared sleeping quarters should only be used exceptionally.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA), Nødvendig restitusjon og hvile – praktisering (to section 33), 22 September 2011. Downloaded from

The position improved towards the end of the 2000s, and sharing of sleeping quarters became far less common than it had been earlier.

Hurricane prompts evacuationUpset stomachs on Ekofisk
Published 20. September 2019   •   Updated 27. September 2019
© Norsk Oljemuseum
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