Marc Wiggin is 36 and lives in Newmachar. Until recently, he was a subsea structural engineer contracted to Aker Solutions.
After his contract was terminated due to lack of work, he decided to look to another industry for new beginnings.
My career in the oil and gas industry has reached that point familiar to most in the industry – the reservoir of work has finally dried up.
Somehow or other, I have been able to tap into this reservoir of work for the past 13 years. Engineering design, analysis, integrity management, topsides modifications, subsea and onshore. But now, nothing.
The warnings were always there. The need to improve efficiency. To streamline the organisation. To cut costs. We are in a very competitive marketplace trying to recover deposits of natural resources, we were told, and the little deposits are more expensive to recover than the big deposits.
Everything had started gushingly well.
An honours degree in civil and structural engineering from the University of Aberdeen opened the gate to a graduate engineer position at a major MMO contractor.
The work flowed, and life flowed with it. It is funny how, as we go through life, we find a way of maintaining reservoir pressure, or at least ensuring that we are working under pressure. Socialising. Marriage, kids, divorce. Re-marriage. Life goes on, and as long as that work reservoir keeps producing the goods, onwards and downwards, as they say in the trade.
And now, dust. I have run out of resources. And unfortunately, this has happened before I am due for retirement. Quite a long time before retirement, as it happens. So in the best traditions of the industry we all know and love, it’s time to do a bit of research, up anchor, and find another productive reservoir somewhere else.
I always liked writing.
An early attempt at rhyming prose hangs on my mother’s kitchen wall, as a reminder for her to ‘mean no harm, … and keep her calm’. My school work-experience placement was at a local newspaper helping the junior writers with spelling checks and even penning the odd small piece myself.
I dread to think how much time I wasted at university composing great long rant e-mails, for the entertainment (and no doubt irritation) of friends. So I decided to enrol in a distance learning course through London School of Journalism, in Freelance Writing with Sport.
That will be me, I figured. Stood on the 18th green at Augusta, scribbling furiously, as Rory McIlroy explains to me how much he had always wanted one of those nice green jackets.
Or gushing across a two-page spread in the P&J Sports section about the Dons’ latest victory at Pittodrie, and how the SPL title was now surely in their grasp. Well I always was a dreamer.
My distance learning course involved writing and re-writing topical news pieces, conducting interviews, research into the legal side of the writing business and plenty more. I learned that different types of article require a different style of writing, that a writer has to be razor sharp to avoid breaking the law, and that I don’t need to state what I had to eat and drink while interviewing a footballer.
I’ve already started drilling into this new work reservoir. I’ve been to a few local music events and had reviews published on a local website. I’ve had pieces published in a local newsletter. Hopefully there will be more opportunities to get published in the future.
And I’ve been dreaming of Aberdeen winning the league, and Nick Faldo not being the last Briton to wear that distinctive Green Jacket. Given half a chance, I would like to follow my dream of being a professional writer, and hopefully this time next year I will be gushing across a two-page spread about a sudden improvement in the north-east oil and gas industry.