Norsk Oljemuseum

Useful Information

Location: Kjeringholmen 1a, 4006 Stavanger.
(58.973464, 5.734691)
Open: All year Mon-Sat 10-16, Sun 10-18.
Closed 01-JAN, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, 17-MAY, 24-DEC, 25-DEC, 31-DEC.
Fee: Adults NOK 150, Children (4-16) NOK 75, Children (0-4) free, Students NOK 75, Pensioners NOK 75, Families (2+3) NOK 375.
Classification: MineOil Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Norsk Oljemuseum, Postboks 748 Sentrum, 4004 Stavanger, Tel: +47-51-93-93-00. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


20-MAY-1999 museum opened to the public.


Wide areas of Europe were subsided forming basins during the Mesozoic. For several hundred million years sedimentary rocks were deposited on top of crystalline basement. During some perios it was covered by the sea and marine sediments were deposited, during others it was land and sandstone or silt was deposited. If such an inland sea is deep enough there is no oxygen on the bottom, and animals, anythning between algae and dinosaurs, was deposited on the ground without being decomposed, becaus the bacteria responsibel for decomposition need oxygen. The carbohydrates from the animals became part of the sedimentary rock which is typically called oil shale. For the formation of oil deposits two more layers of rock are needed, a porous rock on top of the oil shale a,d a waterproof silt on top of the porous rock. After some time the carbohydrate become oil and as it is lighter than the groundwater it swims, so the oil moves upwards. If there is a sandstone with silt on top, this is a so-called oil trap, the oil is trapped by the water resistant layer, which is also oil resistant.

Oil deposits are found in all parts of those Mesozoic sediments, all over Europe, but the biggest are on the continental shelf between Great Britain and Norway. Norway is composed mostly of metamorphic rocks, about the same as the crystalline basement. It is part of an old craton. But Norway has enormous oil reserves in the shelf off coast to the west.


The Norsk Oljemuseum (Norwegian Petroleum Museum) is dedicated to the norwegian oil industry. The location is in Stavanger, the harbour which is used by many offshore oil companies. And it is located right at the sea in the harbour and offers great views. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Lunde & Løvseth Arkitekter A/S.

The first discoveries of coal and oil were made in the 1920s on Svalbard, which is located on the rim of the European continental shelf. However, the geological structure of the continents was unknown, it was just an accidental discovery. And in 1958 when the first UN conference on the law of the sea was held in Geneva, the geologists were asked if there were valuable resources under the sea. Under the knowledge of the time they answered correctly that this was very unlikely. But only a year later the first natural gas was discovered at a depth of 3,000 m in Groeningen in the Netherlands. The plate tectonics theory was new at that time, and every research increased our knowledge, and any discovery made money available for research.

The next step was the legal side. The Geneva convention specified that coastal states could exercise jurisdiction over continental shelf areas out to a water depth of 200 m. Normally the shelf is only 100 m deep, but a deep submarine valley in front of the Norwegian coast was 250-300 m deep at Stavanger. There were some discussions but finally the median-line principle was used to divide up the North Sea. In other words the North Sea was split down the middle.

There lots of further details on the story to be found in the museum, but the more interesting parts of the exhibition are definitely the technology which was and is used. It's necessary to make sure that no oil escapes from a borehole, because this would cause an oil catastrophy of unimaginable size. Swimming drilling platforms were developed, new technology for the drilling, the supply of the drilling platform was organized. It took decades, but it also made Norway one of the richest countries in Europe.

The museum also presents the most important oil fields of the North Sea, Ekofisk, Frigg, Statfjord, Valhall, and Draugen. The different situations, the geology, the work life and the impact on society and economy are explained. The museum has models of oil drilling platforms and original items like an original oil well valve. This is definitely the most spectacular oil museum we have listed, as we said, Norway became rich from the oil.