An insight into life offshore

Living and working offshore is an accepted part of life for thousands of men and women in the oil and gas industry - but a world away from what most people are used to. Capturing the Energy is helping to provide an insight into this unique environment.

Spending two or three weeks at a time away from home and family, working 12- to 14-hour shifts, day or night, on a man-made structure teeming with volatile substances and often battered by wind, rain and huge waves... it's an everyday sacrifice that those who are not involved in oil and gas can easily forget.

But this is normality for the individuals who work in an industry that helps to provide heat and power for millions across the UK. So what's it really like to be on a North Sea platform?

At the start of this century, the University of Aberdeen and British Library embarked on a project aimed at establishing just that. Now, the Lives in the Oil Industry oral history collection, together with old and new images taken offshore, is being used by Capturing the Energy to share insights from some of those who have been in the industry from the very early days.

The interviews provide a sense of humanity that is missing in official records - although the two types of archives often complement each other. They reveal a mix of hard work and good humour, with crews forming a tight-knit community and enjoying high-quality food in surprisingly homely surroundings.

By collecting and preserving archive records, photographs and verbal accounts of oil and gas in the UK, past and present, Capturing the Energy aims to help others get a sense of the 'parallel universe' of life on the rigs.

If you want to find out how you can support our work and contribute to a permanent public record of this remarkable industry, email