Public talks tell the human story of oil and gas

Public talks tell the human story of oil and gas

The completion of one of the world’s largest ‘life-story’ projects that has documented the personal stories of oil and gas workers in the North Sea will be celebrated with a series of public lectures which begin at the University of Aberdeen this week.

The series, ‘Tis Thirty Years Since, Personal Reflections on the History of the North Sea Oil and Gas Industry, will feature five public talks to celebrate the culmination of the Lives in the Oil Industry oral history project and to celebrate the 30th anniversary-year of the Queen’s visit to the North-east to switch on the flow of oil from the Forties field.

The first of the weekly talks, which all begin at 5.00pm, will be held on Thursday (May 4) with Peter ODell, former Advisor to Tony Benn when he was UK Secretary of State for Energy. Professor ODell will speak on ‘Forty Years of North Sea Oil and Gas Controversies’. This will take place in the Regent Lecture Theatre.

The second talk, on Tuesday, May 9, also in the Regent Lecture Theatre, will feature Hugo Manson – a pioneer of oral history in his home country New Zealand – who came around the world to Scotland to record the stories of some of the people who have helped make North Sea oil and gas happen. Hugo, a Senior Research Fellow at the University, has interviewed almost two hundred people for the Lives in the Oil Industry project over the past six years.

The third talk will feature the photographer, Owen Logan, whose work deriving from the Lives in the Oil Industry project is on permanent display at the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. Mr Logan, who is also a researcher in the University of Aberdeen’s History department, will deliver his talk on Thursday, May 18, at 5.00pm, in the Regent Lecture Theatre.

The author of a recently publicised secret Government document from the 1970s on the impact of oil on the Scottish economy, Gavin McCrone, will be the guest speaker on Thursday, May 25. Professor McCrone, a former Chief Economic Adviser to the Secretary of State for Scotland and a distinguished academic, will deliver a talk on ‘North Sea Oil: a Personal View’ at 5.00pm, in New King’s 10.

The lecture series will culminate with a talk by Carol Boyd, a solicitor who now produces market intelligence on current North Sea activity. Her talk, entitled ‘Experiences of the UK Continental Shelf That Cannot Be Shared in The Royal Northern and University Club’ will be held on Thursday, June 1, in New King’s 10 at 5.00pm.

Hugo Manson said he was looking forward to welcoming people from across the oil and gas industry to the public talks. He said: “The talks that we have organised celebrate a major achievement in oral history and I am delighted that we have secured such a distinguished line-up of guest speakers.”

The Lives in the Oil Industry project began in the summer of 2000 initiated by the University of Aberdeen and the British Library Sound Archive. Led by Aberdeen senior history lecturer Terry Brotherstone, the project was established to create an archive of the personal and professional lives of the people working in the UK North Sea energy sector.

The project now comprises over 700 hours of archival recordings and is one of the biggest collections of its kind in the world. The project website, launched last year, showcases many aspects of the project, its content and development. 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 were 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 were also interviewed in the United States.

Mr Manson said the project formed a remarkable collection of personal stories from a key North-east sector. He said: “Now that the project is complete, it is time to start making it more widely known and to provide potential users of the material we have gathered with an indication of the range of interviews and topics covered.”

Further information on The Lives in the Oil Industry is available by logging on to: www.abdn.ac.uk/oillives

Further information on the series of public talks, or to book a place at any of the talks, contact Hugo Manson on (01224) 272472 or email: h.manson@abdn.ac.uk

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