One thing you should always do when visiting a new place is learning about the place you are visiting. I try and do some type of tour everywhere I go don’t always agree with the practices.
I consider myself to be a very green person and the thought of an oil rig is the exact opposite. It wasn’t until we visited the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig in Galveston that I got a new appreciation for what they do.
Why we need Oil?
What does oil make?
Petroleum is vital to our lives and creates more than just energy. When most people think about what we do with it, they immediately think about the cars we drive.
But even if we converted all of our vehicles to alternative fuel sources, we’d still have a dependency on this product. Clothing, Nail Polish, Tires, Pens, Deodorant, Dies, Refrigerant, Paints, and many more things are all produced with the oil we get.
Impact on Galveston
Texas’ oil industry is what put them on the map. It started a migration in the early 20th century. Beyond the land-based oil production, my only other experiences with it have been in Movies.
Things like the scene in Armageddon where oil comes shooting out of the top causing everyone to get covered. Then there are the disastrous things in the new like the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf. Most of those instances are rare. The rig itself is safe.
Visiting the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig in Galveston Harbor, you’ll see the different components that go into everyone’s stagey, including the environment.
They even have a blowout preventer on display that failed on the BP Rig. One fascinating part I learned about the oil rigs, besides the fact that they can move locations when done, is that once decommissioned, they can turn into coral reef habitats.
There are about 500-600 decommissioned oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico that have been transformed into habitats. There are 100 miles of the shoreline of Galveston where divers can explore.
Visiting the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig
The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig is more than an old drilling rig. They transformed the rig to be a science museum and education center that focuses on the oil and gas industry. Inside you’ll find a magnitude of different types of equipment activities to keep you fully engaged.
The museum is all self-guided, so take your time and enjoy the experience. To get there, purchase your tickets at the gift shop. Then take the walkway over to the rig.
Getting Acclimated to the Rig
If you time it right, check out their 15-minute video right away. It will give you a summary of what to expect and a little more information about the industry.
Because let’s face it, sometimes you are too distracted to read all the informational signs. Throughout the museums, there are interactive experiences that everyone will enjoy. It really is a great place to wander through.
Kid Activity Bonus
First off, kids, especially those that like big trucks, machines, and other things that move will love this place. The drill bits, machinery, helicopter pad, and dive gear were just some of the fun things on display that they could get up close and personal with.
You can even stand on a crane hoist that is used to bring people and supplies onto the rig. Beyond that, they do an excellent job of having plenty of interactive exhibits that everyone will enjoy. Including shore videos on what you are looking at.
If you need a little more of a boost for their learning, have them complete one of the passports. The passport is a fun way to get the kids engaged by asking questions about some of the fun things they learned.
Second Floor Displays
Diagrams, models, and replicas of the rigs can all be found on the second floor. This floor is geared toward adults. However, there was plenty to explore with the kids as well. They included a wall of pipes and a hall of fame for all the industry pioneers.
Third Floor Displays
The third floor is probably the Kid’s favorite. It contains a simulated mess hall and bunk station, replicating what it was like to live on the rig.
They also have the gear they can try and pretend to be an employee and interactive computer games. Even adult visitors will enjoy it.
The highlight of the entire experience was getting to go outside on top of the rig. You don’t fully understand the magnitude of the offshore oil rig until you stand underneath the rigging.
It is dizzying so be careful. But seriously, if it’s not raining, you need to check it out. You can witness the drill pipe, actual drill bits, and ROVs.
Tips for your Visit
Human nature is funny. One thing we learned thanks to our Smithsonian days is to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. This gave us an almost private experience in the Ocean Star Offshore Oil Rig.
Get there first thing in the morning (10 am) and explore level 1. Chances are there will be a few people trickling in after you. Anyone that comes in at 10:15 will hang out on the first floor until the film starts at 10:30.
Instead of joining them, you should go all the way up to the top! Not only is it amazing up there, but everyone else will be watching the video while you explore level three.
Anyone that came in with you will move on to level two. By the time you are ready to go to level two, they will be up to level three.
Just about the time the movie is over, you’ll be ready to go back to one and start the movie again. You’ll enjoy the video and get a recap of everything you just saw without the bottlenecks.
Admission Rates Adults – $10.00 Seniors 55+ and Military – $8.00 Youth (7-18) – $6.00 Children (6 & under) – FREE
Tickets are purchased through the gift shop. It’s tight quarters in there and if you are trying to avoid your kids begging for different stuff, just send a parent in.
We did love the gift shop and felt that it was not overpriced or anything. Check out the Ocean Star site for family day information. On the second Saturday of the month, kids get in free with paying adults.
Even though the rig is technically on the water, you don’t need a boat to get there. They have a rampway. Going across the walkway to the production platforms and say “Hi” to all the pelicans looking for fresh fish scraps from the neighboring restaurants.
Visiting the Ocean Star Offshore Oil Rig will take about an hour to complete, especially if you use my strategy listed above. And it’s just about the time all the restaurants start opening up. Everything is handicap accessible.
What the locals say
One thing we loved to do on Galveston Island was talking to the locals. To me, it’s always a good gauge if they would recommend us visiting.