Giveaway - Heart of the Storm


It was good to be home despite the storm, because the last two weeks had been a bitch!

I’d been working for Ross/Young Oil Corporation as their Chief Marine Geologist for the last two years. What started off as a match made in heaven sadly deteriorated into a bickering, quarrelsome nightmare as the months went by. But hey, that was my job.

The oil rig circuit of the North Sea offers one of the harshest settings in the world. And the working environment for the more than one hundred souls usually found aboard the combined drilling and production platforms, presents some of the most perpetually hazardous conditions you’ll ever find.

Drawing extremely flammable fluids and gases out of the earth is perilous enough under the best of circumstances. But when you deliberately set light to it and begin a process of separating the highly poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas away from the extracted petroleum, well, you’re asking for trouble. Especially when you insist on conducting those procedures during storms that produce hurricane force winds with waves in excess of two hundred feet!

Talk about work involving a high pucker factor.

But it’s a multi-trillion dollar industry. The proportionally few number of deaths each year are always considered worth the risk of keeping that precious black gold flowing. And the risk was becoming ever more present. For as each year passed, companies drilled ever deeper into the earth to find what they craved.

As a workaholic, I’d operated out of the Geiger Four rig, one hundred and ten miles northeast of the Shetland Isles. She was a brand new design when it came to combined platforms. Capable of reaching over twenty thousand feet down into late Jurassic strata, she was the deepest working seaborne rig in existence.

Simply put, my job involved assessing the stability of local plate tectonics, and the impact drilling procedures would have on the existing local biosphere. I also had to calculate what to do to avoid obvious dangers. I would then make recommendations as to the best way operations could be conducted to reduce hazards, and minimize the harm inflicted on local flora and fauna.

I was one of the most highly, qualified experts in my field. My views and standards ensured I was always a royal pain in the ass.

But I’d never apologize for that. To me, the environment and safety were of paramount importance, and short cuts were a vulgarity never to be practiced in my presence.

It was a major factor as to why Ross/Young and I had fallen out.

The latest platform was cutting too deeply, too quickly.

Although the strata in that area had been relatively stable for millions of years and had formed a sizeable sedimentary crust, you still had to be careful piercing pockets of highly pressurized gas and oil. Especially one the size of the Geiger Four!

During my initial survey, I had assessed she would be capable of producing in excess of one hundred thousand barrels of oil daily, for the next twenty-five to thirty years. A colossal amount!

But she was deep. The highest pockets lay at nearly eighteen thousand feet. Too deep for my liking, with too much pressure potential to be safe. And much too risky when you considered the tenuous foothold nature had managed to gain in such an extreme environment.


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