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New website tells the human story of oil and gas workers

A long-running project that has documented the personal stories of the North Sea oil and gas industry has launched a website in the run up to the project’s completion in May 2005.

The project now comprises over 700 hours of archival recordings and is one of the biggest collections of its kind in the world.

The website showcases many aspects of the project, its content and development. It also contains links to other relevant information on the UK North Sea industry.

Mr Manson said: “Now that the project is approaching completion, it is time to start making it more widely known and to begin to provide potential users of the material we have gathered with an indication of the range covered. It is a remarkable collection of primary evidence of a key sector of the UK’s development in the last half-century.”

As part of his research, Mr Manson spent time on Shell’s Brent Charlie - one of the largest oil and gas producing platforms in the North Sea.

As a result of his stay of several days aboard the platform, an exhibition of photographic impressions of the people and machinery there is now open to the public in Aberdeen’s Marischal Museum Gallery, entitled On Charlie.

The photographs were taken by Mr Manson, while Pat Ballantyne has curated the exhibition. Photographs from the exhibition will be posted on the Lives in the Oil Industry website soon.

Some 40 extended interviews per year have been recorded since the start of the project. The people interviewed include men and women representing all sectors of the industry – management, offshore workers, technical professionals and specialists, personnel from government and regulatory bodies.

Interviews have been recorded in many parts of the UK, with an emphasis on centres such as Aberdeen, the oil capital of Europe, the Great Yarmouth area, Shetland and Orkney. People have also been interviewed in the United States.

The archive includes recordings with people from organisations and communities, which have been connected with the UK North Sea industry. The archive, due for completion in May, will comprise some 200 interviews.

A number of publications and presentations to international conferences have resulted from the project. In addition, an hour-long BBC Radio 4 Archive Hour based on the project was broadcast in 2003 and repeated in 2004. In addition

The Lives in the Oil Industry website is now ‘live’ at

The On Charlie exhibition will be at Aberdeen’s Marischal Museum Gallery until early March 2005. The museum is open Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm, and Sunday 2pm-5pm. Entry is free.

Hugo Manson is available for media interviews. Please contact him direct on (01224) 272472.
More background on the Lives in the Oil Industry project
The interviews for the project are in the form of life histories. Information is collected about the early life of each interviewee in order to provide a personal context for the main area of the interview dealing with the oil industry.
Typically, each interview is of between three and five hours in length and chronological in form. The interviews are recorded on a confidential basis with the arrangement that future access by researchers will be subject to a consent form on which the interviewee may state any restrictions or time/publication limitations up to 30 years. The interviews are not edited in any way unless at the specific request of the interviewee concerned.
Once an interview is completed, a word-searchable summary is prepared. This is the main finding aid once the interview has been deposited in the archive. The original recording is deposited with the National Life Story Collection in the Sound Archive at The British Library. A copy is also being deposited in the University of Aberdeen Library Special Collections.


Notes to Editors

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.

Issued on: Monday 7th of February 2005

Ref: 1580oil lives

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