The True Story of Pioneer

Pioneer is a Norwegian thriller which is in selected UK cinemas now. It tells the true story of the first group of deep sea divers employed by the Norwegian government to lay the pipelines for the countries prospering oil industry in the 1980’s. During the crews first job tragedy strikes and one man inexplicably dies in unclear circumstances. This leads to any investigation by one of the divers who uncovers a conspiracy built on greed and disregard. Actor Aksel Hennie plays the lead role in this dramatization of these shocking events but the true story is one of great intrigue and remains a much discussed topic in the Scandinavian country.

At the time of writing Norway has the second highest GDP per-capita in the world, making it one of the wealthiest nations on Earth. This is largely down to the country’s vast oil resources. However, the initial process of acquiring the oil was extremely dangerous. During the pioneer period (1965-1990) 17 divers died, due to an untested and unsafe method of resurfacing, which was introduced to avoid divers contracting the bends. Rather than being clear on the causes of death the government withheld secrets from the victims’ families and fellow divers.

In 2013 seven former North Sea divers took Norway to the European Court of Human Rights after developing long term health problems as a result of the work. Illnesses included lung disease encephalopathy, reduced hearing and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The court’s findings ruled that the Norwegian authorities had failed to provide their employees with sufficient information about the risks they were taking on all in order to maintain an advantage over their opposition.

Although Pioneer adds a sense of drama and tension to these events all of the true facts are presented in the film making it a captivating and informative piece of cinema.

Also starring Wes Bentley and Stephen Lang, Pioneer is directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg and is in cinemas now.