Sunday, 22 September 2013


You'll have to forgive me if I seem less coherent than usual today, I've just come in off the plant after completing our de-rig and backload for another successful job plus I'm being distracted by the sound of a cat in a cement mixer style noise eminating from the TV lounge as Xfactor is on.  Why would such a simple task send one quite so loopy I hear you ask (Great! I'm hearing things now!)?  Well I'll tell you (and now I'm talking to myself).

This trip has been one of the most frustrating that I have been on, which - given my employment history is surely saying something.  In historical terms I've been messed about with more than a 50 year old Land Rover on a working farm.
We came on board nearly 3 weeks ago now and thus far have worked somewhere in the region of 20 hours total.  I have spent more time watching telly than Gary Bushell and Harry Hill combined (I really miss 'TV Burp!).  Due to scheduling errors, weather delays and sheer stupidity (luckily on the part of the client, it has to be said) we have been within a hair's breadth of being sent home many times over.  Indeed, we have actually been on the flight list some three or four times now.

But, at last, on Thursday afternoon, it looked like we were finally going to go ahead with our work scope.  Even this good news was severely tempered when we heard that, due to lack of rigger cover we would be doing the rig a massive favour if we were prepared to work over and stay on until '10 or 11 o'clock'

Both myself and the one op that was left on board with me were more than happy to oblige in this scenario as we were both fed up with the Discovery Channel and Sky News.  After all a couple of hours over is nothing in the grand scheme of things and it meant we would be a day closer to home.  That was if it was going to be a couple of hours of course!

The problem with such a request only appears when you realise that it is gone 3 in the afternoon and so it is completely pointless to go back to your room for a quick 'safety snooze'.  This problem was made worse as the time went further and further into the evening and through lunch (midnight meal) and on into the next day...

We got the call around 2.30AM by which time we were both past caring for our own sleeplessness.  As it happened, we had both managed to grab a little sleep in the TV lounges as they were not too busy that evening.  And as it turned out we were correct in our assumption that the work would only be the matter of a couple of hours.  This presented us with another worry, now that we had worked through until what was essentially shift change, we were now on Night shift.

 So we went to our beds, safe in the knowledge that the rigging work would be completed during the day and we could drop straight onto our next work scope on nights.  Plus, this part of the job would be so short that we could get done by lunch.  So one 24 hour shift followed by a full 12 hours off (all be it on a different shift) was followed by a part shift and another case of trying to turn around before we could de-rig.

This is where we are now, my colleague and I have de-rigged and packed away today and we are more than ready for our chopper tomorrow.  Needless to say the chopper tomorrow is a late one whereas the chopper we were booked on but got scrubbed from was here before tea-break!!

If anyone could advise me as to what time of what day we are on, I';d be hugely grateful...

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Simon Cowell Killed My Dream...

The death of the 'variety show' was a dreadful loss to the British TV industry.  As anyone who looks at it seriously would know, the variety show didn't die of natural causes, no, it was murdered by television Exec's seeming obsession with dancers and their continuing (and rather baffling) love affair with Simon Cowell.

One of my favourite acts that you always used to see on such shows was the plate spinner, the guys who basically did just that (I suppose the term 'variety' can only stretch so far), they spun plates.  The thrill was very much in the imminent and innate danger that it would all come crashing down around their ears at any time.  It always would of course but that was often turned into some kind of finale and even though exactly what you thought would happen did happen, you were left satisfied (almost the exact opposite of a magic trick) especially as you got to see loads of crockery get smashed - they were simpler times!

Up until yesterday on this job we were smack bang in the middle of our act, we had all our plates spinning easily and steady, although given the simplicity of the job we are here to perform we may as well have only 1 plate spinning on 1 pole.  For all the progress we are making it may as well have been glued there.

In fact, we were preparing to jump ship and go home for a few days as this job was at a standstill.  That was the old crew's plan at least (That crew being the one who arrived when we did).  That crew were on their way home having completed their trip, it is indeed, alright for some...

So we were watching our plate, preparing to knock it into our hand and take our applause when we were invited to meet the new Ops Super.  As happens so many times, a new crew equals a new plan.
Let's not send you home, we need to assess the problems we're having, the ones causing the hold up, before we make that call...
We got the Tannoy around 3PM, we were staying on for the foreseeable future.  Oh the joys!
I'm not entirely sure if the cracking sound I heard after receiving this news was the metaphorical plate bypassing my outstretched hand and smashing into the floor or merely the sound of my heart and spirit finally breaking beyond repair...

Now, some of you may be saying that this only makes for one plate and so the original image of the variety act was a wee bit melodramatic.  To you I say, 'Calm down!  What is wrong with you people?!  This is a free site isn't it?!'
No, the pain is far from over...

This news alone would not have been enough to make me miss catching the plate (yes, I'm persisting with the metaphor) however, this was not the only tragedy to befall us yesterday.  I had been enjoying the rare and privileged position of using an empty office, the owner of said office had returned on the flight I should have been on.  So in one fell swoop, I had lost out on going home to see my family, I had a whole new crew to get used to, I lost my comfy seat in a lovely office with its very own Sky box and big telly.  I was cast out like a fallen angel, doomed to wander the netherworld of the public TV lounge where I could no longer watch what i want, when I want.

It was so bad that I couldn't even watch the current run of season 4 of 'Modern Family' on Sky One.  Not only this but there is now a distinct lack of available plug sockets and so we are reduced to a veritable timetable of charging for our various electrical devices (quite a pickle when your comrade in arms is using an iPad).

And so I sit here on the 'standby' table, relegated to a drafty corner (Crash!!) with an awkwardly positioned Laptop teetering near the edge of my desk (Smash!!), having to use a public phone (Bang!) which is never available (Boom!) and what's worse, where I am now sat, everyone can now see what I'm looking at online (Clang!!)!!

Great!  Wish I'd never mentioned plate spinning, now I've got 'Devil's Gallop' playing non-stop inside my head!

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Crew Change Fandango

There are some sights offshore that you never tire of seeing;  A fresh bundle of bedding lying on the floor outside your cabin door, your name on the subsequent flight list confirming your suspicion that you are going off (Not always guaranteed), a tray full of cooked steaks in the serving hatch, a 'speciality menu' in the galley indicating a theme night for your tea.  But as we hurtle into week 3 of this 7 - 10 day job there is one which has cropped up a few times...'The Crew Change Fandango'.

It is a very simple dance with only a few moves...1, 2 and Heli Admin, 1,2 and TV Lounge, 1,2 and coffee machine and relax...
It is at this point that the dance becomes rather muddled and a bit of a free-for-all, if anything it changes from a poorly co-ordinated dance to something of a death march as 'comfortably' dressed men wander about the place like they are waiting to be called into an audition for a remake of 'Day Of The Dead'.

You can always tell when it's crew change day for the regulars as you start seeing people wearing polo shirts and jumpers when previously you'd only ever seen them in grubby tees and jogging bottoms .  Sometimes a collar can be a dead giveaway...

Most crew change flight passengers can be split into 2 demographics, mostly determined by their age. The older, more 'sensible' passengers are dressed like your Dad going to a barbecue/housewarming party at their sister's cousin's friend's house in the suburbs.  Almost in a way to show that they've recently had a trolley dash in a charity shop.  If London Fashion Week were ever to target middle-aged fathers I can let them have some numbers for models.

There are however some 'hip' young guys who feel it is their sole responsibility to prove that some offshore workers are willing to pay more than £10 for any single item of clothing.  It is a responsibility that some of them take way too far.

 There is a bewildering array of clothing people choose to wear while travelling offshore and back, some of their T-shirts can cost upwards of £30!  A £30 T-shirt seems like waste of money to me, especially when you consider the fashion for the 'distressed' look.  This has started to mean that the cheaper a shirt looks, the more likely it is to have cost a fortune.

I do not waste my time with such frivolities of course. I do dress with a certain 'Elan'
More accurately known as 'Mat - Elan'...

The more observant of any regular readers (do I have regular readers?  Those poor wretches) will have noticed that I appear to still be offshore, despite having been placed on the flight list a number of times now. 
 I am on the list right now, it stares straight at me as I go to the Galley for my dinner!

We were told this morning that we were on our way home tomorrow.
Then they had their crew change.

This job has now been on again, off again more than Jordan's knickers.
We are currently 'On Hold' very much like a chopper that no-one trusts, we may be here for some time (and nobody is interested in checking out my undercarriage any time soon...).

My main concern though is for my crew mate, he was left here the other weekend when I managed to grab an almost complete day at home (almost) and as a result has had far more of the monotony that being stuck on a rig can offer than I have.  He was elated at the news this morning and is more than a little deflated now.

On the plus side, since we seem doomed to never set foot outside it makes it a little easier to be on 'suicide watch'.  The only real danger of being stuck indoors for hours on end on a rig like this (Wi-Fi abounds!) is spending money on eBay!!

Neil Hannon Rocks!!
You want proof?  Fine!
Even with terrible sound, the effortless charm and natural humour comes through...

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

What Does 'Accounted For...' Actually Mean?

I sat back after lunch today and had a think, I have had plenty of time for that on this job but this one was a particularly deep one, far deeper than my usual 'thinks' which normally end up with trying to work out which would win in a fight between a squirrel and a wasp (my money is on the wasp, always the wasp).  It was one of those 'thinks' that happens at a specific stage in a man's life/trip as I'd just passed the 2 week mark (plus I'm nearly 40).

It occurred to me during this time that I've never been as unproductive in any 2 week period in my time offshore as I have been in this.  We have literally been outside working for just over 4 hours (may I remind you, we've been here for 2 weeks!).  In purely monetary terms we are on about the same money as a mediocre premiership footballer at the moment (and I'm gonna be on 'uplift' in a couple of days) and I don't really foresee much changing in that respect.  Every time I ask the Ops guys out here how the Shutdown is going I get a rather black look and an exasperated exhalation of breath, I would spell it, 'Huffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff'.  This is usually accompanied by a shrug so Gallic that they should be wearing a protective Hard-Beret as part of their PPE.

So it was almost a minor relief last night when the GPA went off and we had a muster.  I had already played the Sunday night guessing game whereby you never know if you should shower.  Knowing full well that if you do get in the shower, that is when the muster will be sounded.
Now we had a whole other kind of guessing game, you know the sort, you are 2 levels below your Muster Point, you need to go past the level with your 'Grab Bag' on.  Do you go straight to muster, as you would if it was a genuine situation?  Or do you be a spod and grab said bag out of your room?

This question, like most offshore, has no correct answer.  Many times I've been caught out in both ways...I've been the only one stood with a giant luminous rucksack, which may as well have 'LOSER' written in letters that are actually bigger than the bag.  I've also been the only one who didn't have their bag slumped over one shoulder, which has pretty mush the same effect perversely!
This time I chose to bypass the room and head straight to muster which had the plus of allowing me to be amongst the first few to arrive and place our Vantage cards in the folder.  Not a great bonus you may think but you'd be wrong as being in the vanguard of the mustered we had our choice of recliners.  Recliners are something of a status symbol offshore and having your pick of them is a luxury a service operator has all too rarely!

I was relieved to see several guys who also favoured a direct route over the grabbing of bags and chose my seat for maximum visibility in case there was some kind of 'in' joke that would have been hilarious of course...Anyone who says that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit has clearly never been the victim of a practical joke

It was at this point that the evening fell apart.  Most rigs that we go onto tend to be running at around 100 - 150 personnel but this one is currently operating with 56 so you would think that accounting for such a number would pose very little problem.  How wrong can you be!
We started solidly enough, names were checked off, we even had a roll call.  It was quietly efficient.  Then the small clues that allow you to peek behind the curtain, the increased phone activity in the Heli-Admin office behind you, the continued alarm that really should have been silenced by now, the radio chatter with the smallest hint of panic to it, the distinct lack of calm in the OIM's voice as he makes the Tannoy announcement and then the killer, we had another roll call...OH NO!!!

I should've known...we had had a crew change chopper (which we should have been on knock-if-you-cant-go) and so the quiet calm that normally pervades such an occassion was missing this time.  So it was that we entered that marvellous realm of the muster-gone-wrong, a twilight zone style area where time ceases to have any real meaning and it is really nice to be in possession of a comfortable reclining chair!

This went on for about 90 minutes all-told and had various moments of the dark gallows humour in which the North Sea is dripping (or maybe it's just the spray from the ocean swell).  My personal favourite is when the Ops Super arrived for the second time (normally we wouldn't see his kind at a vendors' muster point) to speak to our muster checker.  At one point the Ops Super had the temerity to exclaim that,

'Everyone's accounted for, we just don't know where they all are'

I stopped short of asking him to define 'Accounted for' for me...

We survived this ordeal though and I feel that as a unit we are stronger for itAm tempted to offer some pointless platitude about 'pulling together' but I won't (there are plenty of those motivational posters to go around). So I can offer these 'De-Motivators'...Enjoy!

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Knock If You Can't Go...

There are no words more likely to strike fear into an operator's heart than 'Operational Reasons'...That marvellous catch-all statement that covers a multitude of sins!!

This particular afternoon it means that I can put my bag back up into my room and unpack again.  Suppose I only have myself to blame, imagine believing them when they put my name on the flight list! boy is my face red!

This sort of thing happens more than you would think and far more often than is healthy, it is almost as if the planning of work in the offshore environment is dependent on so many various factors that it may as well be left up to chance!
Really, the slightest thing has been known to completely mess up both your plans and the plans of other, far more important people.
The weather, Helicopter inspections, the weather, airport restructuring, the weather, simply not being bothered enough to carry out extra work scopes, the weather and atmospheric conditions can all influence the schedule of jobs.

When it comes to working offshore we are all here until we are no longer needed and sometimes even longer than that... 

Am thinking of purchasing a pile of these, think they will come in very useful for my next trip...I am not a fan of de-rigging...

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Where did I put my lighter?

As any Mycologist would tell you, should be lucky enough to know one, mushrooms and Fungi are terrific things.  They provide medicinal remedies, are used in the brewing of beer and can get you hallucinating, they're wonderful things, not nice to eat but wonderful nevertheless.  They're easy to grow as well, you can do so no problem in your house (as all students know, you just need an old cereal bowl and a dark corner).  They grow best in dark conditions and enjoy a good diet of waste matter.

This is where we get to the nub of the matter, like most of my offshore bretheren I am a barely functioning alcoholic but like ALL those personnel who work for a service company I am definitely a 'mushroom'.  We are the bottom rung of any rig and always the last to know of any plans, even when those plans involve us directly.  We are left in the dark and fed a constant supply of shite!

As this current job dawdles along with weather delays, scheduling problems and a general air of not knowing what the hell is going on we are dropping further and further down the pecking order. Which continued until at some point yesterday afternoon when  we were informed (through 'Smoking Room' gossip) that we may be sent home again.  I was mildy excited and couldn't help myself from looking at the flying schedule for the next day.  This optimism was of course dampened when, upon the posting of the flight list a couple of hours later we saw that our names were not on it.

Never mind, we had the TV and a functioning computer to use and after all we had been stuck here for a while now.  I decided that the best course of action was to settle myself into the routine of getting up and passing time, surely this was the only way to postpone boredom as much as you could.  Then the revised list went up.

Having a smoker on a crew can be burdensome when you need to just finish off a couple of small jobs or are close to starting a test.  You become skilled at scheduling small 'smoke-breaks' into the working day and after all, often it is prudent for the whole crew to have a 'smoke-break' whether they actually smoke or not...On occassions like this though, where we are almost entirely indoors and sedentary a smoker can be your own spy in the house.

Every offshore worker knows that if you want to find something out, you head to the 'smokers' that is where the best gossip and all the useful flight info can be found.

We were indeed to be down-manned tomorrow.  Where did I put my lighter?


Minor TV ad irritations

There are a few ads at the moment that really grate.  Whereas during my normal day-to-day life I can ignore such things, when you are offshore (and more particularly, offshore doing nothing) thay tend to intrude.  You simply cannot get away from them, they surround you like footballers around a referee or flies round s**t (much the same thing).

I only wish to highlight a couple as of now because otherwise I shall become too angry to type.

British Airways...Could you be more pompous and self important with your new Hobbit-length ad??!!

LV...why are we told that that woman is a safe driver when she swerves into another lane without ever looking in her mirror?!  The first time she even considers those who may be behind her is after she cuts them up and leaves them stuck behind a big penguin which they wouldn't be stuck behind had she not driven too close to that van and swerved in front of them!!!! 
She has a no claims bonus because she's lucky, not safe!

As you can tell, am now a little annoyed (my own fault)

LV are being dicks and not letting me find their ad on the viewer for Google+...I reckon they know I don't like em!!
You've all seen it and next time it's on, you'll be annoyed as me (I hope!)

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Cleanliness is next to Godliness...But not in the Dictionary

There are many reasons for changing your overalls at 8.30AM offshore (Deluge system going off in the Separator Area, slipping in a pile of 'Copperslip', a chemical spill of minor proportions, a cavalier attitude to painting or even working in a dirty environment right from the very start of shift) not all of which have occurred to me.  Perhaps the most unedifying and least worthy of having some kind of epic poem written about it must surely be sitting at your laptop in an Ops office and knocking your coffee into your lap.

Fortunately the beverage was ready for consumption (i.e. NOT boiling hot) and I didn't have to do some weird and slightly racist Native American war dance (replete with 'Hoo Hoo Woo' noises!) and as a result very few, if any, Ops guys actually saw the whole sorry debacle.

I do hope they don't follow this blog...

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Friday, 13 September 2013

10 Things I've learned from being offshore

10 Things I've Learned From Being Offshore

  1. Any Tannoy announcement you can't quite hear will always sound like it is for you OR if you can hear the announcement you won't be able to hear the number to call.
  2. 'Custard' means different things to different chefs.
  3. People who work out in Gyms have Shit taste in music.
  4. Never trust anyone in clean overalls.
  5. Being a 'Mud Engineer' is nowhere near as cool as it sounds.
  6. Most people who work offshore seem obsessed with terrible Brit/Gangster/Hooligan films.
  7. 'A Week' can mean a lot of different things (Time becomes elastic when at sea).
  8. Even the most unfit looking person can somehow 'Pass' a medical.
  9. Anything that goes wrong offshore that needs help from onshore will happen some time after 17.00Hrs on a Friday.
  10. Guys who work for 'Chubb' do not like being called 'Chubster' (They hate 'Chubby' even more...)
  11. The best way to meet 'New' and 'Interesting' people is to barrier off a walkway.
  12. I can't count...

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

George Osborne ruins 'Nice Day' at the Heliport

A horrible sight greeted me when I opened the P&J in the Heliport on my way out hereNormally, North of the Border is a safe haven from this sort of thing but even that distance wasn't enough to save me this time.  It wasn't even hidden away on an inside page, it was there bold as brass right on the front page, the main story.
A picture of George Osborne...Eeeewww!

Now I can't be the only offshore worker that was moved to physical convulsions at the sight of this greasy, oily, self-important little turd.  Especially when he's all dolled up in a nice shiny survival suit on a chopper to do a bit of glad handing and 'Be Seen'.

Normally of course he's kept away from the public for fear of a repeat of what happened at the Paralympics (see below).  They must be getting desperate!
I certainly do not equate my job with that of the service personnel both home and overseas but at times like these you get an inkling of what they must feel when a serving politician enters their realm to get a bit of cheap (and indeed cheapening) publicity.  Imagine, you're fighting the Taliban or Al-Qaeda or whichever instant villain they've decided we need to root out, you've been out on patrol or in a firefight and all you want is a shower, a change of kit and some scran.  No, you've got to do a photo op with some preening ninny!!

This is made worse when it's someone as bad at this sort of thing as Gideon Osborne.  He can't even sort out the right face, you can imagine it took a lot of focus group hours to arrive at the nearest he can muster to genuine 'concern'.

Gideon : How about this?
Adviser : Eurgh!  Don't do that ever again!
Gideon : Sorry, what about this one?
Adviser : No sir, that's the same face. Could you stop that now?
Gideon : Sorry...I AM trying you know.
Adviser : <sigh> I know sir, I know...
Gideon : I know!!  How about this?
Adviser : NO! That's the same one! Please stop, I had fish for lunch

The face he came up with is the standard politician one that may seem concerned and deeply thoughtful  but upon reflection (Gideon has none) it ends up like the thought in his head is 
'Did I leave the gas on?'

It's simple then, leave the chopper rides to people who can actually do some good...someone selling 'The Big Issue' on Union Street could have been there instead of him...

 Of couse the more eagle-eyed among you will notice that he's got the green armband on the wrong arm.
At least when he's wearing Ear Defenders he can't hear the chorus of abuse that forms the soundtrack to his everyday life.  He's so used to the sound of abuse that it actually seems to cheer him up (see below).
A normal person might take this as a sign that they need to improve themselves as a human being...oh well.

Or maybe he's just a pantomime villain made real by some hideous witches curse, who knows?

Some of my best friends are black...(listed)...

Right, let's clear something up straight of the bat, most offshore workers do not get paid 'Superstar' wages.
In fact, quite a few guys (and girls) in the industry are merely getting a reasonable living wage.  This is even more true should you have the misfortune to work on an ad hoc basis.   Time and again I hear (and read) this argument on Facebook and alike when the touchy subject of Helicopter travel crops up, as if seeking to earn a decent living and wishing to be as safe as possible are somehow mutually exclusive.

Honestly, there will be many people working around the North Sea who work far fewer hours than myself and receive a comparable wage, from Camp Bosses to time-served Stewards and senior chefs.  These guys (and girls) are the life blood of the industry but hearing how much time off a regular worker on board a rig has had it tends to grate rather!

This 'Superstar' wage argument has been trotted out with alarming regularity as the issue of chopper safety has been raised to the forefront of 'Offshore Chit Chat'.  While there certainly was some truth to it in days gone by, it simply no longer holds up to close examination.  Don't get me wrong, no one that I know is struggling to get along and we all feel grateful to be in a job but nowadays the average worker will receive about as much as a capable High Street shop manager.

Perhaps the worst offenders for perpetuating this bending of the truth are the ones who usually start off with, 'I worked offshore for 20 years...' although whether are not that is actually true is also up for debate! But the reality is this,
The money is different to then...
The conditions are different to then...
The safety expectations are different to then...
It simply isn't like what it used to be, GET OVER IT GRANDAD!!!

Sometimes it's like being lectured on smoking by an ex-smoker or someone fresh out of re-hab advising you on the best way to 'skin up'...

We live and work in a completely different industry and environment from even as recently as 10 years ago and cannot be judged on past standards.

PS Let's leave the chopper investigators to do their investigation and stop trying to second guess the outcome (or even worse, spread lies and rumour like confetti)

This isn't the sort of weather we have at the moment but it's the sort I've had in the past!!

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Gotta be some perks to regular air travel...

Well, I moan and grumble something chronic but every now and again there some perks to regular air travel...
However dubious their merits...


There are still some horrors to be found in the offshore environment...This sight greeted me upon my arrival on board the Anasuria FPSO.
I don't know what disturbs me more, the plethora of Crocs (and croc copies) there are bobbing about on the North Sea or the simple fact that there are 5 of the buggers here!!?!

I can't recall seeing anyone on a platform with either one leg too few or one leg too many...Some guys do claim to possess three legs but I haven't seen any evidence one way or the other (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

PLEASE READ AND MAYBE WE CAN HELP THESE POOR WRETCHES....(plastic-shoes-sold-with-free-penis-removalSeriously!!  Wear something else unless you're a 12 year old girl!

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Apologies for the apparent hiatus in updates recently but as you will see I've been rather pre-occupied...
I've previously called the 'Lost Weekend' the bane of the leaks tester's existence (lloyd-cole-never-sang-about-this-but.html) but even one of them would have been preferable to the near constant movement I've had to endure over the last few days.  
We had been out on the FPSO (a-useful-glossary-of-terms.html) for an entire 2 days when the Ops Super came to me to let me know we had to send 2 guys off and possibly all 3 of us.  Normally this is great news and its not often that a rig will admit that they got you out far too early that quickly!  However, this time it was not so good as I had the unenviable task of deciding who should go and who should stay.  I am not great at playing God (although I have been practising for some time now) and always find such instances to be wearisome in the extreme.  This time though I was given a helping hand when the rig literally gave me the two names they wanted off - and mine was one of them!!

Of course there was the still delicate matter of informing the unlucky one that he wasn't getting off (there was a possibility that he would get off on Saturday but this was to be depending on chopper availability which currently is not what you want to hear!).  I must say that he took the news with good grace as he himself put it 'At least I'll know I'm getting paid!'.

At this time we were not guaranteed to receive 'Standby Pay'...

The plan as it stood was that we would not be needed to return until 'Wednesday at least', which seemed optimistic.  I had spoken to Senior Ops guys who told me that the shutdown was slipping further and further back and most were not expecting to start shutdown works until nearer the weekend.  I had primed myself for a good few days at home.

And now we get to the 'good bit'!!  Oil Week had drawn to a close and most of the suits and part-timers had left Aberdeen in a far worse state than they found it.  The taxi services were beginning to free up once more and even some hotel spaces could be found by the more resourceful among us.  Still we were booked into our staff house just outside the city centre.
When we finally landed, some 3 hours later than we were due to we got a taxi with very little problem and were looking forward to a couple of quiet beers and bed.  I had a flight that was suffering from 'Oil Week syndrome' as it was the second flight on Saturday (the first being fully booked by gits!) and not until 4PM but my colleague was travelling back to Sumbergh and was leaving much earlier.
Upon paying the taxi driver we started to hear the usual suburban wail of what we thought was a car alarm somewhere in the distance.  It was only when we opened the door to the staff house that we realised it was the internal fire alarm, it was also incredibly loud!

After many calls back and forth we had reservations at another hotel across town (actually pretty near the airport, making the twenty quid taxi ride we'd just 'enjoyed' almost completely pointless!) but we still had to wait for the fire brigade to sort out the alarm.  I was mightily impressed by both their response time and their commitment to such a minor call (2 tenders and 6 guys!).
The problem was apparently a faulty sensor in one of the rooms and was reset so as to not be a problem any longer so we decided to keep our rooms in the house rather than traipse across town at such an ungodly hour.
We dumped our bags and set off in search of a decent bar (Union Street being only half a mile away).

It was very pleasing to find the trendy bars of Aberdeen filled once again with the young and beautiful people who clearly have far too  much time on their hands given the sheer amount of work that must go into their hairstyles...I wish I had a stake in a Hair Product company sometimes.

After a couple of beers, which took entirely too long to order - bloody cocktail bars! - we set off back to the house.  Nearer and nearer we crept as it became clear that the alarm was indeed sounding once more.  A few texts later we were on our way across town to our reserve hotel.  We arrived just after midnight and literally crashed.
Sometimes getting stood down is not all its cracked up to be.

The next day developed in very much the normal manner, I slept in, watched a bit of telly and booked my cab nice and early for my trip home.  I checked in in plenty of time and made my way to the Business Lounge (the joys of being a regular traveller!) for some well-earned (?) free beers.  I got into Manchester Airport on time and waited for my taxi home, what could go wrong?!
The taxi was a little late which the driver put down to having the wrong mobile number for me, I let him off as I was feeling good.  The trip home was uneventful and I was greeted by my two young boys with beaming smiles and even a hug or two, all was right with world...

At this point in a normal homeward journey I would sit and relax a little before trying to return my belongings to their rightful place.  This time I wasn't granted that breathing space.
My wife was preparing me a ready meal curry as I was not in the mood for anything challenging, indeed I wasn't really in the mood for anything other than my bed.  Just as I was sitting down to the sumptuous feast my phone sprang into life.

'They need you back on Monday...So...I will need you to come up tomorrow...'
'You still there?'
'Yes...'  It is quite difficult to sound anything other than annoyed through clenched teeth.

So it was that I was booked in for a tea time flight some 22 hours after the flight I had come back from Aberdeen on.
My wife was working Sunday so I got to see her for 2 hours in the morning and for a total of about 6 hours when you add in the scant time we had together on Saturday night. <<<<clenched teeth>>>>

Then of course there is the little matter of actually getting out to these places...
We had a 9AM check in on Monday morning.  Now, on the Wednesday previous we had a 10AM check in which was instantly changed to a 3PM flight, so I had little confidence in seeing the rig any time before mid afternoon.
This flight was moved to 1PM as they were giving themselves decidedly optinistic updates on the flying schedule.  And so it proved.

You really haven't lived until you've had not just breakfast but lunch too inside a Heliport!!

At least it was free...ish...

Neil Hannon Rocks!!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Stop Press!!! Chopper Announcement

See below for primary findings from AAIB...

By all accounts, no techincal fault has been found and investigations are ongoing.

Bad Times...

T.S. Eliot was a Wuss!!

T.S. Eliot wrote that 'April is the cruellest month'  but then he didn't work offshore.  If he had then he might have known that September (or possibly October) was far more cruel!

I have previously written about how much the Shutdown season was like the football season (whatever-happened-to-intertoto-cup?) in that it never really leaves you alone, no matter how hard you try to ignore it.  Having got home from the 'Mahabarat' style, never-ending saga of the Franklin Shutdown I received the call on Tuesday that my services were required on board the Anasuria FPSO (a-useful-glossary-of-terms).

Very cruel as we were undergoing the last rites of the English school summer holidays and I was actually in the cinema with my 8 Year old when the phone rang. Still! 5 whole days off!!

The whole thing feels rather surreal, most Scottish kids having been back at school for a while now and even most English schoolchildren will have started before mine (at least if that most 'reliable' of evidences - Anecdotal - is to be believed), the grass verges are awash with spent Dandelion clocks and the weather is still clinging to the dying embers of the Summer (for most).  But the sheer fact is Summer is properly OVER!

Yet still, the spectre of Shutdown season is far from done with us mere mortals...Upon visiting the office to pick up the job file and have our pre-job safety meeting I was alarmed to learn of all the outstanding work we have still to do.
Added to this mix of general downbeatness there was the looming shadow of 'Oil Week' in Aberdeen.  Oil Week is a seven day long (most weeks are) 'jolly' during which Aberdeen is visited by anyone who has ever picked up a spanner or seemingly Googled 'Oil'...

Because of the jolly boys in suits spectacle of Oil Week I was forced to travel up the very evening I learned of the upcoming job (flights being full the following morning) but fortunately my company had the foresight to retain its own lodgings.  A very reasonable establishment that is rather too near the 'golden mile' of Union Street.  The only real downside to this set-up is that it is near the centre of town and thus not really very convenient for any workers (with our base of operations being next to the airport) but then what's a 20 quid taxi ride between frenemies?!

That was not any real problem, no, the main reason this set-up didn't exactly work for me was when I rang to book a taxi to take me back out to the airport for my meeting in the office the following morning.  I only have one Aberdeen taxi number in my mobile and up until now that has been plenty.  When I asked for one around 8am however I was a little shocked when I was told that the nearest slot they had was '6.15', rather than get into work some 2 hours early I declined their kind offer.  No, luckliy there was a co-worker staying in the staff house that night and being a little more local he had other numbers.

The trip into the office wasn't too bad in the end as we were not travelling in the direction of the Exhibition Centre (I would hate to work next door to that place) and so it only cost us the requisite twenty (again).  The next bit of bad news came as we were waiting for our taxi to the Heliport, we hadn't even begun our trip officially when we heard that instead of our proposed 10am check-in, we had been put back to 3pm!  This being Aberdeen however, this was not communicated to us via official channels.  Oh no, we had to get this from one of our spouses who had been on the internet.  The plan in this instance is of course to make us check in and then wait at the Heliport for a mere 5 hours.

This is, of course, a hangover from the recent incident with Super Puma flights.  As a result the operator we were flying with was sharing their S92's (supposedly a far more reliable chopper, the jury is still out) with a couple of others and as a result of this we were at the bottom of a very deep pile, very much like that errant piece of lego that lies in wait for your unguarded foot.

This provided me with some very useful insights into the current situation regarding flights.  Most flights are still running but there are still a couple of clients who are still not back up and running.  Total had a lot of flights still up on the departure board but they all had 'Cancelled' next to them.  I was later a little confused when they were still announced for check in.  Only after our first aborted attempt to get on a flight (brief watched, suited up, life jackets on, everything checked, last checklist signed off, 'Guys, take your suits off and go back through') we saw the piles of survival suits in there protective wrapping ready for collection.

One by one the flights were called through to pick up their suits and take them out to the waiting 'Executive Taxi'.
In the end we did manage to get on our flight, a mere 7 and a half hours late.  And after one of the most lurid and creepy inductions I've ever had we were ready to go!  
How can an induction be creepy? you may ask.  Well, how else would you describe one during which we were advised about closing boat doors (the ones with the 'Dog' handles) with the epithet 'More Dogging means less Swinging'??!!

Needless to say, I welcomed the sight of my bed, even the top bunk looked very good!

Neil Hannon Rocks!!