Videos Show How Oil Rigs Can Be Bigger Than Skyscrapers

  • A TikTok went viral after is showed how oil rigs can dwarf some of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers.
  • Oil platforms like the Bullwinkle in the Gulf of Mexico can span over 1,000 feet in length.
  • From floating to fixed platforms, there are many different types of oil rigs.

Even as companies look to find alternate sources of energy, fossil fuel dependency has led humans to build some of the largest structures on Earth — from floating platforms that house and employ hundreds of workers to massive production facilities that sit atop undersea towers spanning thousands of feet. 

A TikTok video about oil rigs went viral last month showing how the underwater structures can span lengths greater than some of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers.

The video, which was posted by a structural engineer, received over 13.5 million views and highlights the size of Bullwinkle, a 1,736 feet long oil platform located in the Gulf of Mexico. A sketch of the 77,000 ton platform in the video dwarfs the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building. 

The majority of the structure’s total height — about 1,353 feet — is hidden underwater. When it was installed in 1988, the structure was one of the tallest in the world. In 2010, Superior Energy Services took ownership of the platform from Shell, planning to decommission the rig when it reached the end of its life cycle. In 1988, Shell estimated the platform would have a lifespan of about 35 years.

Today, Bullwinkle is still one of the tallest oil platforms, but newer rigs like the Petronius Complaint Tower can span over 2,000 feet.

The Bullwinkle platform was built as a fixed platform, meaning it touches the ground and would be able to hold up the same on land as at sea, but it is one of several different kinds of oil platforms.

The TikToker broken down other types of platforms in another video.


Fixed platforms, like the Bullwinkle, are designed using steel trusses or concrete that connect directly with the ocean’s floor. These structures are ideal for more shallow water.

Fixed platform oil rig


But, the majority of oil rigs are designed to float. There are several different kinds of platforms that float, including Tension Leg Platforms.

Tension Leg Platforms are moored via underwater tethers that connect the structure to the ocean’s floor.

Tension leg oil platform


Another type of oil rig is a Spar Platform. These types of platforms make up some of the largest offshore structures in use. They consist of a large cylinder that supports a fixed rig platform. The large cylinder is connected to the seafloor by a series of cables and lines.

Spar oil rig


Despite efforts to move toward cleaner energy sources, in 2021, fossil fuels represented an over $2.1 trillion industry.  The US alone produced over 11 million barrels of crude oil per day last year.

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