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1981: Maternity unit for new offshore era

The riches of the continental shelf had to be brought up from ever greater depths as the pace of the petroleum age quickened; innovative thinking was essential.

The dream of every boy: in this basin, MARINTEK tested models whose full-scale equivalents are some of the largest floating objects in the world. Photo: SINTEF/Bjørn Johansen 

At first, oil-rich Norway moved out to deeper waters by building gigantic traditional production platforms – and in new materials. The biggest Norwegian concrete gravity platforms (Condeep) have become an icon of the Norwegian continental shelf.

During the 80s, however, the petroleum industry in Norway and in other countries moved to depths that demanded new solutions.

From fixed to floating installations

Vessels and floating platforms were new ways of producing offshore oil and gas.

Without the world’s largest ocean laboratory, which was inaugurated at the SINTEF company MARINTEK in 1981, and without the test technology that was developed there, these developments in the petroleum industry could not have been achieved at that time, either in Norway or on the international scene, according to senior MARINTEK personnel. 

A link in the design process

In order to ensure that the enormous values involved in offshore field developments are safe and reliable, almost all floating production facilities are tested on model scale in MARINTEK’s Ocean Basin.

MARINTEK’s clients, which include some of the world’s biggest oil companies, usually tested their models in the basin as part of the design process: 

  • partly to ensure  that mooring lines and risers, at their designed dimensions, would be capable of withstanding the loads to which they would be exposed,
  • partly to confirm that vessels and platforms would not be exposed to unacceptable motions and wave impacts,
  • but most of all, to ensure that accidents would not occur.

Biggest floating objects in the world 

MARINTEK has launched models of the world’s largest production vessel, the world’s largest tension leg platform and some of its largest semisubmersibles.