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BBC reporter enquiry: Have you worked in Africa or are you planning to?

Hi everyone,

Curtis has generously allowed me to post this enquiry here. 

I'm a reporter for PRI's The World, which airs across the United States on public radio, and online. We're co-produced by the BBC World Service. Much of our content airs on the BBC to many more million listeners across the globe. 

I'm working on a story related to the terrible stuff that went down in Algeria recently. I'm not trying to pry into the lives of those who lost family members--they should be left alone--but I am trying to learn about life in general for Americans on oilfields overseas.

We want to get a sense of what conditions are like, day-to-day stuff.

Have you worked at an African oilfield? What was your experience? Would you recommend it to others? Or are you thinking about taking a job out there?

Please drop me a line as soon as possible, and let me know how to reach you. Email me here: gallafent@gmail.com -- we'd love to talk to you on the radio--tomorrow even.

Thanks everyone --


Tags: africa

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No I have never worked in Africa, I worked in the persian gulf in the late 70's and early 80's.  It was bazar then not crazy like it is now. Everyone I know that has worked in africa will  never go back!! I wont go either without some firepower as a back up!


I went to Malabo on Bioko island (off the coast of West Africa near Cameroon) for a security systems integration and threat assessment a while back for Marathon and EGLNG and have to say from my point of view working offshore (or onshore) out there seems like a pretty stressful role to play. 

James -- free to chat by phone or Skype tomorrow morning? Let me know (and how to reach you) at gallafent@gmail.com.

It'd only take a few minutes of your time.

Many thanks!

I work in Angola,

it's not too bad.  Chevron runs the camp and its a nice place.  The people are very nice and I like it there.  The cities are a bit messy and don't drink the water.  Otherwise - its ok.   The Angolan people seem dedicated to peace now.  I grant that they seem to want more of the profits to the people but they also seem to want to work towards this with democracy and I respect that quite a bit.  There is a little friction over that sort of thing but so long as we treat the people we work with as peers they are very personable.  There could be further technical education there.  It would improve the capabilities of the nationals in the work force and this would help everyone.

 Everything is terribly expensive there- and its very hard to get required equipment through customs.    Quite a few of the people I know have the money for nice things. They just cant get them at anything near the cost of them in the rest of the world.  Once the shipping and customs issues are fixed and prices of things get down to reality then Angola will be quite a nice place.   (some good sanitation company could start-up and that would help an awful lot too).

thats my 2 cents on it.

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for writing--any chance you're free to chat tomorrow (maybe around lunchtime your time) for 5 or 10 minutes? I'd love to know more about daily life at the camp where you are.

Possible? If so, please let me know how to reach you at: gallafent@gmail.com



Over the years I have worked in many places on the continent of Africa.

I now refuse to work on the continent of Africa or anywhere in the Middle East.

YES, you can earn good money.

BUT, what is the good of that money if you cannot enjoy it with your family at home.

MOST places have adequate security and on the job is relatively safe.

BUT, as Algeria has shown, these people DO NOT care about others.

They kill their own brothers and sisters, and the remaining brothers and sisters ask WHY.

Some people I imagine believe they do not have an option.

We ALL have the option to stay away from an area that is not safe.

It does not matter where you work or live as we hear of the recent incidents on this Forum in the USA.

Life anywhere is more precarious than it has been in the past.

So many do not have the values that were expected and accepted in years gone by.

Well said.... Alan.

I have worked overseas all my life......... Treat people the way you want to be treated and life onshore or offshore will be easier and.......... have a sense of humour; a laughter a day helps.  


Never have but will chase that money, rig & work... Once you work in the oilfield its in your blood and you always end up chasing it

I moved to Cairo about a month before 911.  We didn't have any problems other than there was a university student protest a few months later for some reason  where my family was blocked in on the freeway. Our driver told the students that they were frightening the children. When they heard that the crowd parted and waived them through. The Egyptians have a great love of children!

There were frequent trips to southern Sudan in the early '90's as well as a manager. Sending personnel in was always a concern.  My first trip to Khartoum did not go exactly as planned due to a mortar attack that day on the base.  The managers had flown down there and forgot I was coming in. Always interesting trying to arrange transportation in a foreign city that you have never been in before. Khartoum itself was relatively safe, at least I felt relatively safe there but going south was another story.

The following year saw a continued increase in the risk and threat of attack by the "Christian Rebels" on the wells and facility, who only wanted, and eventually got their share of oil.  Bullets and mortars do not distinguish between Christians, Muslims and Oil Workers (not saying they were heathens!).

I refused to provide Kevlar vests because if they were needed then we weren't going to be going there.  Security degraded over time and it was getting to the point that it was no longer safe to leave the base even with an army escort, mainly because the army didn't want to go. We would wait for intelligence reports to decide if it was safe enough to venture out. The equipment got shot up a few times and fortunately no one was ever hurt. It was not a very nice place to work as it was with the risk of malaria and yellow fever, never mind adding the risk of getting lead poisoning!

One of my buddies who worked for Exxon at the time was really excited to be transferred to an overseas assignment. He was blown out of the air back in the 80's when someone put a bomb on the plane he was on flying from Angola to Paris.  I think it was aimed at the French or someone else on board due to the civil war at the time, but bombs don't really care who they kill. Violence in Africa is nothing new and you don't have to be the target to get killed, just in the way.

Worked in Libya and Tunisia for John R. Blocker.  Libya was a paradise compared to Tunsia. Cap rock just below the desert sand made rat & mouse hole drilling a real adventure, specially with no kelly spinner. We used the old school chain & sprocket setup from the rotary table  A freakin death trap, but it's all we had. Ahhh such fond memories of working in a war zone.

Here you can listen to Alex's finished report


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