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TV arrives on Statfjord

person by Trude Meland, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
An event occurred at the beginning of 1986 which more than any other has changed social life on Statfjord, as it did on all the other platforms on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). Distributing TV transmissions by satellite finally became legal in the North Sea.
— Installation of TV on Statfjord A. Photo: Kåre Moen/Norwegian Petroleum Museum
© Norsk Oljemuseum

The opportunity to do this had existed earlier, but all reception had remained illegal until the government finally yielded to massive pressure. This was not primarily on behalf of offshore workers, but to permit satellite broadcasting to the far northern Svalbard islands. That was seen as politically and strategically important, but the costs of developing the system were substantial. The solution was that the oil industry contributed to achieving satellite transmission to Svalbard in exchange for permission to receive the images on offshore platforms.

The agreement enshrining this deal was signed between the NCS operators and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs on 19 March 1985. An antenna with a diameter of four metres was installed on Statfjord B’s new communications tower, while a local TV transmitter sent on the signals received from the satellite to Gullfaks and Murchison as well as the other Statfjord platforms. TV replaced the cinema on most offshore installations. Films had been the main form of relaxation until then for offshore personnel. These had been shown at fixed times, tailored to the shifts.

“Everyone” had gathered in the cinema, mingled socially, discussed and commented on the films. It was initially replaced with a TV room, until sets were installed in every cabin. The experience of social interaction thereby disappeared or at the very least changed. Workers had access not only to Norwegian television programmes, but also a multitude of channels from all over the world. People no longer had one film or a single programme which could be discussed collectively, liked or disliked. But major sporting events and football matches have continued to be shown in the common rooms.

Lavik, Håkon. Statfjord. The largest oilfield in the North Sea . Stavanger 1997, pp 159-160.
Meni Fokus , April 1985. “TV satellittoverføring til Nordsjøen”.

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Published December 3, 2019   •   Updated December 12, 2019
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