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Assistant Team Leader and Project Responsible, Lene Thorstensen, for our Operations and Wellsite Geology business unit, shares her thoughts on holiday season on duty.

For most of us, the Holiday Season is a very special time of year, which we spend with our family and loved ones.

I remember a conversation on a rig one lunchtime. A co-worker suggested that ‘it would be nice if we could stop working for two hours on Christmas Eve to have the whole crew together’, but a grumpy company man quickly killed the conversation, replying that: “Offshore does not care about holidays”.

Someone working offshore in the North Sea can usually expect to spend at least every 3rd or 4th Christmas offshore, often with a group of unfamiliar people, working nightshift (from 19:00 to 07:00) the first week and dayshift (from 07:00 – 19:00) the second week.

We are privileged with offshore conditions in Norway. On most of the rigs, there is a dedicated catering crew, who try their best to make everyone feel at home. During Christmas, this crew transforms into Santa’s little helpers, making sure there is a Christmas tree in the living room, decorations in all public rooms, and loads of chocolate, marzipan and cakes everywhere, just like you’d find at home.

The meals change from normal meat and fish to typical Norwegian Christmas food. It is not uncommon to get Lutefisk (dried white fish) served for lunch.

Christmas Eve on the rig is a special day, just as at home. People dress up and go to dinner with their colleagues, spending extra time around the table. Alcohol-free wine and beer is served, along with a traditional Christmas dish of lamb, pork and fish. After eating far too much there is usually a gathering in the living room, when the rig management gives a speech and hands out Christmas presents to the crew. The contents of the presents are not so important, rather it`s the act of appreciation for the workers that is important.

Everybody on the rig understands that the wheels must keep on turning and have reconciled with working over the Christmas season before they leave home. This does not mean it is easy for everybody to sit on a floating piece of metal in the middle of nowhere during this festive holiday. Luckily internet and phones are available on the rig so that distance to the loved ones is not too big.

The grumpy company man was correct, ‘offshore’ does not care about holidays, but the people out there certainly do, and go the extra mile to try and make it as special as possible.

We would like to wish a special Holiday Season to all of those working out in the field!