Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Why Lord Browne Is A TIT!!! OFFICIAL!

Recently, we've seen a lot of hand-wringing over the drop in oil price and there are real concerns for global markets, etc.  But the one that got my goat more than any other dropped just this morning...
Former BP boss Lord Browne says North Sea oil costs are "out of control" and must "come right down".

Most contracts are based on lowest possible bids as is.  Seriously, anyone who has eaten the food on the Tartan platform would agree.
I worked at Grangemouth for over 7 years during Lord Browne's austerity reign of terror when a lot of work was done by long term contract.  These contracts would often be tendered by companies at cost level or below.  They'd do this in order to get an 'in', after all, this was BP! Even then seen as a Huuuge contract to land.
Year after year we'd toil for little to no real profit, merely utilising equipment to prove our worth as a contractor and our value as a service company just waiting for the re-tendering process to begin so we could up our prices to somewhere we could at least make some money.  Every time we would be met by BP with demands for a reduction in costs and prices...This all sounds eerily familiar....

What would the outcome of cost cutting be?
Well, from my own personal/very selfish/Lord Browne-ian point of view, the sort of belt-tightening LB is talking about will lead to a vast reduction in service jobs.  Basically platforms will pare down to the bare minimum legal requirement of equipment up-keep and as a result, companies like mine will be stretched to a point where they will have to consider lay-offs.
Market forces you may say...yes, kind of.
Once the energy traders and investors have re-aligned their portfolios and oil prices rise once more these companies will be caught in a mad scramble to repair and replace their previously (currently) ignored equipment so that they can keep up and make as much money as possible (naturally, this money will be pumped back into those platforms and workers' pockets via pay rises and improved facilities, definitely NOT scraped off the top and pumped into investors' pockets).
Instead of 2 week Shutdowns, you'd need 3 or 4 week shutdowns and also instead of 3 or 4 man crews, you will need 8 and 9 man crews to complete the increased work within the allotted time-frame.
Unfortunately, as the work dried up, service companies laid off many capable workers.  When the work ramps up the crews will be filled with people dragged off Union Street (or its Norwich/Great Yarmouth equivalent) and thrown through a swimming pool, straight onto a chopper...We have all worked with someone who has genuinely made us question our particular choice of career path, these people will be packing our three/four man cabins once the work ramps up, mark my words!

These words are particularly unhelpful in the current climate of tumbling oil prices as the market is driving all things at the moment.  If there's one thing we've learnt over the last 10 or 15 years it's that the market is as strong and robust as a recently-orphaned infant deer in a woodland glen.  This one comment alone will probably cost at least 100 jobs...Thanks LB!!!

These are not British companies I'm referring to, virtually any service company worth its salt is a worldwide enterprise (Baker Hughes/Halliburton/Schlumberger et al) and as such is subject to closing whole countries operations down if they deem them unprofitable.  Should operators decide to raise prices to chase the dwindling oil price then whole offices around the UK may close, I have seen it before and no doubt, will see it again...Thanks LB!!!

I suppose if these guys and girls do end up having to choose another path, there's always a zero-hour contract available with Sports Direct.
At least some of my friends will lose their jobs over the next few years and they will not deserve to, if you want to cut costs there is at least one area I can think of.  The last time I looked at the car park at Aberdeen & Norwich Heliport were not filled with Aston Martins and Bentleys, the car park at BP and their ilk's head offices are PACKED with them


Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Friday, 12 December 2014

How Can You Tell If A Seagull Is A Lesbian?


    [seagulls fly across the sky]
Dreyfus once wrote from Devil's Island that he would see the most glorious birds.Many years later in Brittany he realised they had only been seagulls... For me they will always be - glorious birds.

Of course 'Maude' didn't know what she was talking about!  Seagulls are filthy, horrible creatures, very much the rats of the North Sea.  But I needed a quotation which included Seagulls and I sure as hell wasn't going to use that Cantona rubbish!

I could have gone with 'Mine! Mine! Mine!' from 'Finding Nemo' but that one lacked a little in the impact and sheer pointless poetic rhetoric...

No, I got onto the thinking about the life of a Seagull the other night as I was moving from one module of the romantically-named '47-3B' (It trips of the tongue, don't it!?!) in the also romantically named 'Rough' field.  Why they would name a gas field after the kind of manly intercourse which I assume must go on in Gyms all around the North Sea, I have no idea.  Be warned, I have not witnessed anything like what I've just described, I'm only going on the noises I hear emanating from behind the closed Gym door.  I can only imagine that is the reason they play such terrible pounding techno music, to mask the grunts and whimpers.

But where was I?

Oh yes, I was making my way between modules carrying an armful of tools back to our container when I chanced to gaze on a flock of resting Seagulls upon the moonlit surface of the water, they had probably been there the whole time but only on this night was the moon so full it illuminated the entire field.  I had caught glimpses of others amongst their number huddled around the base of the legs of the platform but the way they slept on the undulating waters got me thinking about the life they must lead.
I came to a perfectly reasonable conclusion, 'God, I'm glad I am not a Seagull.  Imagine trying to eke out an existence out here...Permanently!  I get to go home in a few days/a week or so/a couple of weeks**Delete as appropriate**.'

Then, I put myself in the position of the Seagull.  He;s probably thinking, 'By the mighty Gull! (I don't know what religion a Seagull might follow) Look at those poor orange blokes, they have to traipse around carrying armfuls of stuff, I saw that one before, he was crouched under a set of boards trying to undo some bolts, the poor wretch!  All I have to do is hunt around for a bit of fish and sleep here on the ocean, I WIN!'

Honestly, you will think about the weirdest things just to pass a little bit of time out here.  What I think I mean by all this is that life is like drawing landscapes, it's all about perspective, you can't just assume you know everything about someone or something just by looking at it for a few minutes.  You only need to read the feedback to any post ever put on the Internet on any website, EVER to realise that this is true (Not just the Mail Online...Mainly the Mail Online though, that thing is awful!).

So Happy trails my Seagull friend!  Oh. he's been eaten by a Seal, never mind I WIN!

(I did say there were very few quotations regarding Seagulls but it appears I was wrong, have another one)
Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Beyonce NAKED!! Shameless Advertising Britney Spears Naked!

Shameless Advertising!!

Sorry for the ruthless google fishing but just wanted to advertise my mindless witterings are freely available on Twitter and Facebook (although mostly Twitter, seeing as it seems the most appropriate place for mindlessness)...
My Twitter is updated far more often than any other resource as the proliferation of WiFi offshore these days allows me to post ever more revealing pics of the Offshore life.

(NOTE: I ALWAYS follow back, can't stand people who don't)


'Attackbadgernellystyle' on Facebook

Come for the pictures, stay for the ignorance...
Not the real one I know, but I enjoyed it...

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Back Among the Z-Men...

Am back after a long and self-imposed exile. Although 'Exile' is probably too strong a word for not being arsed to write anything up.
 No, the real reason is simple lethargy on my part.  Perhaps it was a very real state of post 'Big Red' euphoria that washed over me the day after my last post.  That day marked my handing in my notice to the Aberdeen office and heading 'Down South' to pastures new, or at least new to me...sort of. 
 A change is as good as a rest and for me that change was from red to blue (although, I have a terrible feeling that due to commercial enterprise that blue will soon be reverting to red).

So I said my farewells to the grey skies, the grey buildings and the grey-faced people (but mostly the grey skies) of Aberdeen and ignoring tales of 'six-fingered-hand tools' I set off towards the glorious sunshine of a brave tomorrow in Not-So-Great Yarmouth!!

Now, while a change of company's to work for in some industries might be seen as a big shake up and a life altering decision, you must believe me when I say a change of offshore service company is about as new and revolutionary as Trigger's Broom.

Although it does put me in quite an advantageous position, as an outsider, to dispel some of the more malicious rumours concerning Yarmouth and the Norfolk area in general.

It is NOT TRUE that most Norfolk area family trees look less like a tree and more like a bunch of bind weed.

It is NOT TRUE that Norfolk is full of close-knit communities that are so close-knit that they only contain around 3 or 4 family surnames.

And finally, the big one...It is DEFINITELY NOT TRUE that the people in Norfolk have all got 6 fingers and webbed toes.  In the year I've been down here I've only met four or five people like that (and three of them were in Lowestoft, so that definitely doesn't count).

Anyway, I have a whole year of adventures to catch you up on.  Now that I have escaped the yoke of Disk Cheney and his not inconsiderable henchmen, I finally managed to get to work somewhere other than the North Sea, Northern Sector.  So be prepared for tales of far off distant lands such as Norway and Tunisia (that's it so far but I hope to have more soon).

Be back soon, please drink responsibly (or not, what do I care?!)

PS, All this talk of Trigger inspired me to add this little gem, enjoy

Neil Hannon Rocks!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Always Check The Label...

It is a shame that Anusol and Bonjela decided to use the same colour scheme, they even share a large proportion of their livery, for God's sake the tubes are even the same size!!!

I only mention this as putting Bonjela on your piles has no real benefit but also it doesn't actually cause any real harm.  Anusol has a rather bitter taste however and I've been told by urgently contacted medical personnel that it does nothing to counter mouth ulcers...

It is a mistake that you will only make once though!
(Alright twice but I was very drunk)

Follow this link to learn more about the difficulties faced when naming an arse cream...
Little Britain USA - Anusol renaming... )

Or you could just watch this...

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Drunken belligerence and survival of the non-swimmers

So I powered through until the beginning of my holidays.  A holiday period that the Ops guys onboard the Curlew had no clue about.  I marvelled at their crestfallen faces as I appeared at the morning meeting in my best bib and tucker.

Every offshore worker worth their salt can tell when someone is dressed for a trip home and definitely NOT for a day of hard slog.

Don't get me wrong, I worked like a trooper for the few remaining days on that hell-hole, I am if nothing else committed to the cause.  We were so short handed (as you'll know if you read the previous entry - old-dutch-sayings-and-apology )  I can't tell you how often I was asked to do something while I was already busy doing the last stupid thing I was asked to do.
The amount of times I asked the Ops Super to,
'Shove a broom up my arse and I can sweep the floor at the same time'
But at the end of the day, there are only so many times you can ask for something to be inserted into your rectal cavity before you start to sound like some kind of pervert...

We did not get the crew numbers bumped up to finish the job but I have it on good authority that the boys I left on the Curlew managed to complete and close out the job with relatively few problems.  They were after all onboard for only a couple of days after I departed (It's good to know that booking holidays entitles you to roughly 3 days extra time off).  Indeed, I even managed to get the full 8 days that I booked off - Just.

Here I need to make yet another apology ( 'Tis the season...).  Though not entirely my fault, I did act like an absolute tit at the airport and menaced at least one delicate Eastern Airways worker.  I absolve at least some of the blame because the flight I was to be on was not an Eastern Airways flight but should have been the earlier Flybe flight.  My office however seemed only too happy to leave booking my ticket home until I was actually at the airport check-in desk with my cock in my hand!
I really must stop doing that...
And so I was left with a later flight on a vastly inferior airline, sorry Eastern but anyone who's been on them will know exactly what I mean (it's not as though Flybe are even that good).
What is an Oil worker to do with a spare hour or so in an airport, after a gruelling (albeit short) trip, with a bar nearby?!
Yes, I got more than a little tipsy...
So much so in fact that even though I did manage to haul myself to the 'departure lounge' at Gate 10, I didn't get further than sitting in an all-too comfy seat and falling asleep!

My annoyance level was now to be completely reset.  I was now angry with myself, mostly for falling asleep but partly because this is my usual state, but I was also a little irritated by the airline when I was awoken by a tap to the shoulder from a concerned staff member.
He was very gently inquiring of me as to my name.  God knows why, as he seemed to know who I was, he even addressed me by name.  If you know Gate 10 at Aberdeen airport, you'll know that it is a little microcosm all its own with a small seating area set far apart from the main part of the airport.
So when I finally came to my senses (which obviously took a little bit longer than normal) I realised that I was the only person sat in this area.  This realisation caused me further annoyance.  He knew my name, I was sat (slumped) not 20 feet from the only gate in walking distance but still, it was easier for them to offload my luggage (with my name on it) from the airplane and let the more sober passengers fly off.
Then they could try waking that guy up that is sleeping over there.  While you're at it, see if that is the guy we have been calling/looking for.

These are all of course excuses of the highest/lowest order!!

The simple fact is, this was my fault and I really shouldn't have done it.  Although in my defence, this is the first time I've ever missed a flight through my own stupidity and I've been travelling for several years now - I have more miles on me than 'The Littlest Hobo'.

So I am dreadfully sorry for acting more than a little like an arse and can hand-on-heart say that it will never happen again...until next time (it WAS kinda fun)...


Those 8 days of holidays should have lasted until the following Monday but as I work for a service company I got a call on the Friday, my weekend had just become truncated.

I was required in Aberdeen first thing on Monday morning to complete my survival refresher, Oh the joys!!  Unfortunately this meant that I had to travel up on Sunday, not just Sunday but Sunday afternoon, early afternoon!  Instead of leaving Monday morning I left my house at around 11.30 on Sunday morning.

You will need a little background for this section...I can swim, a little.  I choose not to, why would I?  I am a land-dwelling animal that spends less than 0.001% of my life in the water (Including baths)  So when offered the choice, I will always attempt to remain dry.  Quite difficult when your job requires you to dangle upside down inside an open ended barrel some 12 inches below the surface of a swimming pool once every 4 years.

There's not much to report about this refresher (my third), everything went well (I didn't drown) and the facility (Survivex) was really nice. 
I employed a tactic that I stumbled upon a couple of times ago.  The secret is to grab a non-swimmer's cap when you are getting ready to get wet (careful ladies).  When the divers in the pool see you attired in such a way they basically drag you around on your back rendering your limbs pretty much surplus to requirements, IT'S GREAT!!! 

As I've said, the almost new facility that Survivex use is a sparkling, spandangly glass-fronted edifice with a lovely canteen and some clean and modestly unassuming classrooms.  We went through the admin bit, they checked we were who we said we were - as if anyone would want to pretend to be me for the day, then we were allowed to change into our pretend flight suits.

If anyone reading this has not been through this ordeal I shall give you a rough outline of the day.
Bearing in mind that this was only a refresher and not the full 2/3 day course.
We got a badly fitting set of overalls to wear under the suit (no change to normal work really), a flight/survival/wet suit hybrid (again poorly fitting) and a pair of pool shoes to complete the futuristic sea-faring rent boy look.  Although they were less a set of pool shoes, more a verruca delivery system.

The basic refresher scenario is, get in the pretend chopper and familiarise yourself with getting out of a seat to get into a liferaft, then over to the smaller pool for 'airpocket'/re-breather drills, then back to the pretend chopper for three more dunkings (the last of which is of course the upside down monster).  After that it's just a case of some piddling about (well, the water does need warming somehow) with various survival techniques before being winched up to a platform over the pool.  DONE! 

There's some basic first-aid followed by a lot of fire extinguisher use and some group escaping form a smoke-filled container (there IS also individual fire escaping).  The its cert pick up time and go home.

Sorry if this feels a little rushed but there really is little more to say on the matter, I really don't want to dwell on it as it's done now and like most offshore workers I don't want to even consider anything similar for at least 3 years!!

Neil Hannon Rocks!! 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Old Dutch Sayings and an Apology...

Firstly, an apology

I have been severely remiss in not keeping this tawdry little blog up to date recently and that is simply because life has got in the way (self-important blogger has life, SHOCK!).

We managed to get out of Dodge (or The Anasuria as it is otherwise known) and then I had friends down to stay for a few days (Self-important blogger has friends, SHOCK!).  No sooner had their tail lights reached the end of our road when the phone rang with the news that I was off to the Curlew.

Now, I’m not sure who out there has actually been to the Curlew - or the ship of the damned as it is more rightly known – but if you have you will probably know that their internet access and availability is ‘limited’ at best.  As such I was not able to get the requisite half hour in which to cobble together the usual rubbish that I throw your way.

The main reason I had no time will be explained in the following entry…


A Guilder Is Always A Guilder…

There is an old Dutch expression apparently,

‘A Guilder is always a Guilder’

Which is said to explain why Dutch people are incredibly tight.  I have known several Dutch people in my time and found them all without exception to be thoughtful, kind and perhaps above all generous.  I cannot say with any certainty where such an idea or expression would come from (Much like during any World Cup my money is on the Germans!) but it could possibly have found its creation on board the Curlew.
Seriously, they know how to get their value from something on there.  I used towels that appeared to pre-date ‘Eastenders’ and were less of a bath towel and more of an uncomfortable handkerchief…but that’s another story.

I arrived onboard the vessel with no hint or preview of the terrors which were to come, indeed, I had almost entirely forgotten the fate which befell me less than a year previous when I had to close out the shutdown for my company.
It took a mere half hour on board to realise that I should have perfected my ‘Sickie’ voice and thought up some lame excuse not to go…

After a prolonged travel day due to weather and general Chopper problems I finally arrived around eight in the evening, I was the only one to get off the chopper at the Curlew (always a lovely experience) and was greeted not by my ‘Back-to-back’ but  by both of them.  You see I was to be the entire Dayshift for the time being.  For the past few days both days and nights had been operating with 2 on shift (already down on what most of our procedures advise) but had still been working manfully in their attempts to get the job done.

No matter.  It was Wednesday evening and I’d been assured that my helper would be on the chopper the following day.  He was not.  So I naturally felt more than a little complacent, feeling that no Ops Super in their right mind would ask one lonely operator to perform a leak test, even an easy bottle test, on their own.  I was right; no Ops Super in their right mind would have done that.  This Ops Super didn’t seem to have the necessary qualification however and so did indeed ask me to perform a solo leak test.

‘We’ll help you out’
He so nicely volunteered.

After a couple of days of solo working (including stripping down a split unit pump) the cavalry arrived - in a way. 
Imagine John Wayne in one of those old films but instead of a mighty steed, he was riding a severely asthmatic Donkey and he didn’t have a sword…or a rifle…or his trousers on…
You get the idea!

My helper on days greeted me with the terror-filled words,

‘This is my first trip offshore.’
Great, I would have to run the pump and oversee most of the rigging up and hose runs.
What did I care? I had holidays booked and only had to get through one more week and then I could go home and take several showers to wash away the stench of utter despair.
Don’t get me wrong, I always give 100% when I am on the job and performing leak tests of any equipment - especially when you know that your helper has fewer hours on the rig than some seagulls – but my heart simply wasn’t in this one.  Perhaps it was the pile of paperwork that my predecessors had simply not had time to process or organise, perhaps it was the general malaise amongst the Operators on board, most of whom had either only just transferred onto the place or had only just handed in their notice and so were not entirely dedicated to the cause.

Mostly though I think it was when I looked at the Pre-job meeting form that is always entered in the front of the job file.  I marvelled at its optimism, under ‘Duration’ it said ‘7-14 Days’.
We were now entering week 5.
That even managed to cajole a smile from me (the first for some time).  That smile was quickly removed when I looked at the signatures of said document to find that we had 4 on Days and 4 on nights at the start of the job.  Even about a week before I had got there they had been operating with the same number of personnel.

No, I can’t say I enjoyed my time on the Curlew and with any luck I have put things in motion to ensure that I am not asked back…

To Be Continued