In the wake of climate change and its dire repercussions, scientists may be urging countries to reduce and eliminate their use of fossil fuels, but some countries have other ideas. Saudi Arabia, which has around 17% of the world’s proven oil reserves, has announced a new strategy to make oil rigs more user-friendly for the public.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, unveiled “THE RIG”, a 150,000 square meter complex inspired by offshore oil platforms.
THE RIGGING. will be based on an oil rig in the Persian Gulf, with three hotels, 800 rooms, eleven restaurants, a roller coaster, a water slide, a Ferris wheel, bungee jumping, scuba diving and a show arena, among many other offers and attractions. It will also be accessible by boat, yacht, cruise or helicopter, the PIF said.
A promotional video shows footage of water slides built atop a drilling rig, along with a steel and glass hotel atrium at the center of the attraction.
#PIF announces “THE RIG”. Project.
The world’s first tourist destination inspired by offshore oil rigs.
— Public Investment Fund (@PIF_fr) October 16, 2021
“Offshore platforms were created for discovery. THE RIGGING. takes that legacy to the next level,” according to a statement posted on the station’s website. The Public Investment Fund maintains that it will follow “leading global standards and best practices” for environmental protection to “ensure the preservation of the environment” surrounding THE RIG.
The location of THE RIG. was not revealed by the PIF, but many Saudi oil rigs are known to be clustered off Dammam city on the east coast. It is unclear whether the rig will be built from scratch or converted from a current oil rig. The PIF also did not provide an opening date, merely stating that the initiative was part of its 2021-2025 strategy.
Saudi Arabia, oil and climate change
The country, whose immense wealth depends on fossil fuels, presented its “Saudi Arabia Green Initiativein March, coupled with a “Green Initiative in the Middle East”, part of a vow to reduce carbon emissions and slow desertification. It plans to reduce emissions by planting 10 billion trees and generating 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030, and it also ratified the Paris climate accord in 2015, pledging to pursue measures to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The pact calls for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In June, however, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s top energy adviser, issued its starkest warning yet on global fossil fuel use, saying the extraction and development of new oil and gas fields must cease this year if the world is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. According to CNBC, Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of the world’s biggest oil producers, have called the IEA’s net zero plan “unrealistic”, saying they will continue business as usual by investing in the oil and gas.
In August, Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports taken to its highest level in seven months, with about 6.45 million barrels per day shipped, compared to 6.327 million recorded in July.