Celebrating the winter holidays and welcoming a new year sure feels different when you’re away from home. But, in the Energy Industry, this is a common occurrence.
In fact, 67% of every 1000 energy professionals have celebrated at least one Christmas or New Year’s at an onshore or offshore platform. Some have never spent a Christmas holiday at home since joining the industry.
However, as difficult as it is to be away from their families, these engineers try to keep a festive environment by organizing their own celebrations with their teams.
In the end, working long shifts and extensive rotations can make the team feel like a second family and make the platform look like a home away from home.
Ever wondered what it’s like to spend Christmas or New Year’s on-site?
We asked a couple of energy professionals to share how they celebrate these last two weeks of December at the job; here is what they said:
“I am currently in the middle of offshore workover operations. My shift started on December 23rd, and it is planned to end on January 7th, so I will start the new year on the platform.
Our Christmas tree was the wellhead. We miss our families, but it’s the oil field, no time to celebrate, we need to keep the oil flow going.”
– Amir, Egypt
“For 7 years, I have spent Christmas and New Year’s working offshore. It comes with mixed feelings as I would love to spend the holidays with my family and friends as everyone does. However, the offshore management tries to make the environment feel comfortable for us with food, games, and sharing of gifts.”
– Uwem, Nigeria
“On Christmas day we had a buffet and Christmas cake, which was cut by the leadership team. The restaurant was decorated with Christmas trees and lights. We listened to music and laughed together but because of COVID, the celebrations were not as elaborate as before. I was on duty working my daily shift. Working on Christmas day has become normal to me as this has happened for several years.
What I miss the most about being home is having family time: going out with the kids and visiting family and friends. Also, the food. We usually prepare jell of rice and fried goat meat at home.”
“The most unique Christmas spent away from home was in Aktobe, Kazakhstan, back in the ’90s. I was flown by helicopter from the remote land rig to Aktobe on December 24th, and I spent Christmas day in the city awaiting my flight on Dec. 26th to Almaty. I never heard the phrase or was told “Merry Christmas or Happy Christmas” the entire day. Didn’t bother me, just different. It was completely different from spending a Christmas in Russian Siberia, where it was very much celebrated.
Since then, I have spent several Christmas’s in Kuwait and Egypt. Even though they are Islamic nations, my colleagues always gave Christmas greetings to the Western Expats out of courtesy. We did the same when they had an Islamic holiday or celebration.”
– David, US
” All of my life I’ve spent Christmas with family, but this year’s Christmas on board wasn’t a bad experience. After all, I didn’t feel like I was away from home thanks to the love we share as colleagues. From the galley to the offices, we had Christmas decorations. Just as you would do at home. And, our colleagues didn’t fail to play carols, so I felt at home. Also, we successfully completed an off-take operation on Christmas day, so that was something memorable that made all parties happy.
As it is a season for loving and sharing, we got gifts from management. It is a usual yearly tradition, which shows that we are valued for providing our professional services.
During the festive season on board, there’s plenty to eat and drink, more than on a regular day.The peak point of the celebration was the toast by the Offshore Installation Manager, wishing all a Merry Christmas. To finish it off, we moved our bodies to the rhythm of some good music, took a group photograph with colleagues, and later retired to bed.”
– Perekebina, Nigeria
“My experience in the past 10 years as a professional in Oil and Gas industry has really been with good and sweet memories. I have spent several holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, Eid Adhan, etc., working offshore away from families and friends. I realized early in the job that what matters is the love for the job and not the pay.”
– Okatahi, Nigeria