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Explanation of the poem
As a process engineer working in the oil and gas industry I have spent quite a bit of time working offshore on oil platforms.
I was on the BP platform, Magnus, in the North Sea when I wrote this poem.
I went to set up a dynamic simulator (which is a computer programme mimicking the processing of the oil and gas from the wells). I was going to stay on the platform for two weeks and I was really excited about the whole experience. The first few days went by quickly. Then I felt the need to exercise and run. So I started going to the gym, but still that was not enough. The second week I found myself taking walks around the platform when weather permitted as it was in November and it could be bitterly cold out there.
On day 10, I remember thinking how do these guys do this for years. I finally understood why when you meet some guys who are just coming back from their 2 weeks offshore, they behave like kids and they all look so happy.
By day 13, I was counting the minutes before I board the helicopter for the 4 hours ride back to land. That's when I went outside and somehow got the inspiration to write this poem, which is dedicated to all those guys who give up half of their lives (they miss out on being there for their partners and kids).
It is really a very strange feeling to be wandering on the platform with no land in sight. What makes it worst is knowing that if something goes wrong, help is very far away. It is different from being on a ship, because with the platform you are not going anywhere.
Before writing the poem I was talking to the guys at dinner the night before and I said that I was starting to feel like I was in prison and then someone told me that the UK government were talking to big operators like BP about the possibility of turning these platforms into prisons with minimum contact with land. Just the thought of these platforms being real prisons made me feel terrible.
But, luckily as far as I am aware this project will not go ahead.
The air reaches me unevenly
As I look far into the distance
I try to imagine the curvature of the earth
Beyond what we call the horizon
The hot air has become unbearable
They must be burning more gas
But I am determined
I am not going back in yet
I have to keep my sanity
I walk on to the other side
The chilly November breeze assaults me
I find myself looking into the distance once again
No sign of land
Only deep blue sea and the horizon
Ah but the western sky is different
A hint of gold suggests the setting sun
Beneath layers of menacing clouds
Tomorrow I am leaving this prison
Once all the oil and gas are gone
From underneath the seabed
This platform will be turned into a prison.