Offshore: A North Sea Journey

A. Alvarez, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $15.45 (190p) ISBN 978-0-395-39972-9
The offshore oil rig represents one of Earth's last frontiers; the ultimate example may be found in the North Sea, 300 miles off the coast of Scotland. What's it like to live in this hostile environment, in unnatural isolation, and to work to the point of exhaustion? Curiosity prompted Alvarez (The Savage God, The Biggest Game in Town to visit the Shell installation at Brent Fields. The magnitude of the operation is impressive: the work force moves around by helicopter, and the air control center handles as much traffic as a large airport; the largest ""flotel'' can accommodate 500 people; supply vessels transfer cargo in 40-knot winds and 50-foot seas. On a rotating system of two weeks on, two weeks off, the 12-hour workdays amid constant noise and vibration take a psychic toll on the riggers. The people best fitted for offshore work, Alvarez found, are ex-military men. He talked at length to pilots, roustabouts, managers, divers and the chief official of the Shetland Islands. It's an amazing account of humanity triumphing over the elements. Much of this book has appeared in the New Yorker. (April 23)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1986
Release date: 03/01/1986
Library Binding - 978-1-85057-317-3
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