The Offshore Petroleumscape: Grids, Gods, and Giants of the North Sea

N.R. Couling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review

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In the North Sea, one of the world’s most industrialized maritime basins, the petroleum industry has been largely responsible for the creation of new types of offshore spaces, making it a powerful vehicle of the urbanization of the sea. This chapter discusses the particular type of extended urbanization that emerged postwar in the North Sea in conjunction with the construction of its offshore petroleumscape. This urbanization is organized around unprecedented, tailor-made extended territorial frameworks (grids), characterized by huge installations such as “Ekofisk City,” constructed to high technical requirements with vast amounts of concrete and steel and a large-scale rotating workforce (giants); it incorporates intangible cultural dimensions in the construction of identities around these new geographic places (gods). Once established, the offshore petroleumscape leaves a formidable territorial legacy: it has set a precedent in transforming the North Sea into an energy seascape, which is being appropriated, renovated, and redirected toward renewables at the same time as processes of optimization are extracting the last hydrocarbons from existing fields and finding other substances to inject into their hollowed-out subsea spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOil Spaces
Subtitle of host publicationExploring the Global Petroleumscape
EditorsCarola Hein
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-3678-1604-9
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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