Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum - Galveston, Texas

The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum is located along the Texas coast in Galveston. The museum is located on an actual retired "jack-up" drilling rig. 

The Houston area is surrounded, quite literally, by the petroleum industry. I thought it would be interesting to learn more about it and to see what is involved in getting resources from the ground and into our car tanks so that we can take that summer road trip. 

Model of how a drilling rig works

People in the industry both work and live on these offshore rigs. There are kitchens and sleeping areas as well as some entertainment options. I can't imagine what life was like out there 40 years ago; before the advent of cellphones, satellite television and WiFi. Communicating with the folks back home has to be so much easier now. 

Like in every other industry, many changes have taken place in the exploration industry. From the basics of life on the rig, to how they get things done at sea. 

Imagine having to use a cargo net to be lifted onto the rig? Personnel would have to hang onto the outside of the cargo net as they were lifted from the boat out to the rig. Swinging on a cargo net, attached to a rope, on a boat, hanging out over the ocean. A gentleman named Billy Pugh had a much better idea, making getting on and off the rig much safer and saner.

This unit (for getting on the rig) replaced the "Tarzan" rope cargo nets (!) that had been used previously to be lifted onto the rig
Ocean Star shows the process from the initial geologic surveys looking for resources to the actual installation of the massive equipment needed to get those resources to market. Imagine a huge mega structure, basically a small city, being designed and built and then hauled out to sea to be erected? It's an amazing feat of engineering and construction that takes many people and many years to accomplish.

Just think, before drafting software became widely used engineers had to hand build models of future drilling platforms and other equipment. Hand build!

Prior to the use of computer drafting software, engineers hand built models of future drilling platforms    

The tour of the Ocean Star was interesting and informative. The sheer size and breath of both the work needed to accomplishment these goals and the structures we use to do so is worth learning about. And if like me you find a peek behind an industry's curtain fascinating then I recommend a visit to the Ocean Star if you're ever in the area. 

Happy travels!

NOTE: Speaking of tours. The next tour I'm hoping we can take is of the Spoetzl Brewery, home of Texas' own Shiner beer. Stay tuned!

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