Non-smokers, on the other hand, were cross at constant violations of the law. Some wanted a completely smoke-free working environment. The smokers were supported by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), which maintained that insisting on a completely non-smoking platform would be too rigid. It pointed out that half the workers on Statfjord C smoked, and needed smoking rooms since it was illegal to smoke out-of-doors on a platform.
The conflict escalated when a room where smoking had previously been banned was converted for drilling workers to take a cigarette. This room, and three others for non-smokers, had largely been unused. The smokers emerged victorious.
The Smoking Act
Even small leaks can lead to fires or explosion when oil and gas production is under way. So a general ban is imposed on smoking and on the possession of disposable lighters on all Norwegian offshore platforms. Smoking is only permitted indoors.
“When the Norwegian authorities amended their anti-smoking legislation in 1988, restrictions were imposed on smoking in meeting rooms, canteens, public rooms and so forth. This generated a discussion on Statfjord C about where smoking could be allowed …
“The working environment committee on the platform debated the issue long and thoroughly, without reaching any conclusions about how the law should be applied. This issue eventually became so controversial that it was decided to call in expert advice. A letter was accordingly sent to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, responsible for the anti-smoking law, asking how the rules should be interpreted. “A clarifying answer eventually arrived. The ministry was not quite sure what the problem was. People who wanted to smoke could just go outside.
Statfjord C eventually got separate smoking rooms.” From Lavik, Håkon. Statfjord. The largest oil field in the North Sea. 1997, p 66.