Leisure time offshore

person by the Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Welfare programmes on the Greater Ekofisk platforms are well developed, and provide a good range of leisure pastimes and activities of various kinds.
— Torskefiske på Ekofisk. Foto: D. Stroud/Norsk Oljemuseum
© Norsk Oljemuseum

Exercise and getting in shape

All the platforms have well-equipped gyms with a sauna. Lack of exercise facilities, at least, cannot be used as an excuse for failing to keep in shape.

Such opportunities are desired not only by those working there, but also by Phillips. Staying in good physical condition is important when serving on a North Sea facility.

The company launched a programme in 1993 called “Get in Shape!” covering three main areas: exercise, diet and ceasing to smoke. It was directed primarily at those unused to regular physical activity.

To the extent the work permitted, employees were given the opportunity to take a 30-minute exercise break during working time.

This programme was followed up with the Ekofisk Campaign, where people who exercised twice per offshore tour received a week’s stay at and tickets for the 1994 winter Olympics in Lillehammer.[1]

The Ekofisk March

This has become an annual event. Approved by Norway’s mountain walking association, the March involves covering 10 kilometres by going round and round the Ekofisk Complex. Unfortunately, however, it is confined to people working on the field.

Less physical activities

Opportunities are provided on the platforms for less strenuous activities. Pool and darts are very popular, other types of games are available and the card tables are always ready and waiting.

Most of the installations have their own film room or cinema, and some even a stage. Films or TV programmes are shown on big screens, and the stage is used for various entertainments – either by the workforce itself or by well-known performers flown in.

Otherwise, the TV and newspaper room provides an important social meeting place on the platform. Providing the weather permits, the day’s papers from all over Norway are flown out.

TV habits

Watching TV on Ekofisk has changed over the years. Until 1986, employees had to make do with day-old video cassettes showing news broadcasts.

But the introduction of satellite communication meant that the 1986 football World Cup could be beamed directly to all the platforms – a popular attraction on Ekofisk.

TVs have eventually been installed in the cabins, which many feel has had a negative influence on community spirit. Rather than gathering in the public spaces, people sit alone in their cabins.


The telephone kiosks also represented a big improvement. Easier access to phones made it simpler to keep in touch with friends and family on land. Availability has improved even further, and a phone in the cabin is not unusual today.

Library and book boxes

Another welfare measure on the field is the book box. Placed on all the Greater Ekofisk platforms, they contain 50 assorted volumes from Sola Public Library.

The titles cover a wide range, but anyone who finds nothing of interest can place an order with the library and, providing the book is in stock, will receive it for their next tour.

This arrangement was put in place by the Phillips welfare department in 1987. Each of the outlying platforms has its own box, and these are circulated in a specific order. Ekofisk 2/4 H and 2/4 K have rather larger collections.[2]

Maintaining craft traditions

Craft traditions are also taken care of on Ekofisk, with wooden boxes, knives, baskets, fishing nets and fish flies being produced. Some have also built models of old ships and cannons.

Ekofisk 2/4 K has its own carpenter’s shop – known as 2/4 Plank – where hobbyists gather almost daily. Courses are also provided in various traditional crafts. Eldfisk 2/7 B has its own knife club, which produces a continuous stream of such implements.

These workshops mean a lot for many people’s social life on the platforms. Personnel from Phillips and contractors alike gather there, drink coffee and overcome problems while they work.[3]

A genuine Ekofisk cod

Fishing is perhaps the best-known leisure activity on Ekofisk, with large catches being made – particularly of cod. The fish are gutted, frozen in dedicated freezers or dried and taken home to family on land.

Platforms and bridges between them are equipped with fishing reels, mostly made on the field, which anyone can use. Crab and lobster pots are also deployed.

To avoid overloading the helicopters, a maximum limit of five kilograms has been set for the amount of fish any one passenger can take home.

[1] Ekofisk, no 1, 1993.

[2] Ekofisk, no 2, 1993.

[3] Ekofisk, no 2, 1994.

Published 3. July 2019   •   Updated 3. July 2019
© Norsk Oljemuseum
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