Along the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico, there may be no better way for Galveston visitors to learn about Texas’ Oil and Gas industry than on an actual offshore oil rig. The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum is just that – three floors of models and interactive displays housed within a retired jackup drilling rig.
“The only known facility of its type, the Ocean Star offers the opportunity to physically enter the world of the offshore Oil and Gas industry,” explains Lisa Lisinicchia, the museum’s Operations Director. “So much of our modern society relies on oil and things made from it.”
Oil is an essential ingredient in gasoline and other fuels, adds Lisinicchia, but it’s also used to build roads, manufacture tires and is a key component in anti-freeze and brake fluids. And hydrocarbons are used to make everything from computers, cell phones and eyeglasses to prescription medicines, shampoos and lipstick. “At the Ocean Star Museum, you can learn how hydrocarbons form and what it takes to extract them from the earth—from people and processes to tools and technologies,” she says.
According to the museum’s website, more than 70 interpretive exhibits, models, and multimedia displays help illustrate the industry from seismic technology to exploration and production, and include scale models of production platforms, actual drill bits and remotely-operated vehicles. Drilling, geology and well servicing is also explained through video presentations. Visitors can take the skywalk out onto the rig’s drill floor and explore exhibits on the pipe deck.
This summer, the museum is installing new video animations that detail the drilling and production process. “Even more than video, animation allows an interpretive version of highly complex technology,” explains Lisinicchia.
Another highlight is the museum’s Hall of Fame recognizing Oil and Gas pioneers and legends. “The Hall of Fame was started in 1998 and accepts nominations annually to identify, document and recognize these individuals,” says Lisinicchia. “Industry pioneers are inducted based on their career contributions.”
According to the museum, the Ocean Star rig is a mat-supported jackup built in 1969 by Bethlehem Steel in Beaumont. The rig was placed on location at Pier 19 in Galveston in December 1995 and opened as a museum on April 27, 1997.
The museum is operated by the Offshore Energy Center, the non-profit parent organization that also established an Education Outreach Program to educate the public about the industry, including history, safety and environmental record. The purpose of the outreach program is to enhance science and technology curriculums for school children through teacher workshops, field trips and overnight and summer camps.
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