|BRITAIN'S OFFSHORE OIL & GAS
At the peak of North Sea development activity in 1990, over 36,000 workers were employed in UK offshore fields. In 1994, with many more producing fields, about 27,000 workers were employed. By 2000, with a total of 200 fields in production, a total of about 19,000 people were employed offshore with more fields processes being automated. For logistical support, the offshore operating companies have established onshore supply bases which communicate with the platforms, transfer personnel and ensure delivery of food and equipment. In recent years there have been major efforts to co-ordinate and share logistics requirements to help reduce operating costs.
A typical large oilfield platform complex houses a staff of about 100 men and women offshore, supported by other staff onshore. The logistics involved are phenomenal. One major operator transports more than 5,000 people every month to and from their offshore installations; the same operator transports around 300,000 tonnes of cargo offshore every year - everything from stationery, fresh food and vegetables to computers, gas turbines, generators and specialist well equipment. The same operator segregates and disposes of 35,000 tonnes of waste annually. All rubbish is brought back to shore for responsible disposal with an increasing focus on recycling wherever possible. Living quarters offshore are compact but comfortable. Food is good and abundant, but no alcohol is allowed. Off-shift, a worker can choose to work out in the gym, watch videos, play snooker, read or learn to use a personal computer. With fourteen-day stints of twelve-hour shifts on a remote platform, an offshore worker requires the ability to co-operate in a group. Women as well as men work in this offshore environment.
The Offshore Installation Manager of a platform is like the captain of a ship, making sure that all operations run smoothly and safety standards are met. He co-ordinates the work of different groups such as drilling, production and maintenance, and communicates progress or problems to 'the beach'.