LIVES IN THE OIL INDUSTRY - Oral History of the UK North Sea Oil and Gas Industry
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Origins | Programme | Interviews
Personnel | History of UK North Sea Oil and Gas Industry

The Project: Programme

By the time of its completion in mid-2005 nearly two hundred people had been recorded for the archive. The average length of the recordings, each in the form of a life history, is approximately four hours. The intention is to continue to add to the collection in the future.

Interviews were recorded in many parts of the UK, with an emphasis on centres such as Aberdeen, the ‘Oil Capital of Europe’ and the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft area, centres of the industry before it moved north in the 1970s. Other prominent locations in the recording programme were Shetland and Orkney, hosts to the great Sullom Voe and Flotta oil and gas terminals.

Other areas were also covered. People interviewed for the project were tracked down in many parts of the UK and in the United States. Americans have played such a significant role in the history of the North Sea oil and gas industry, particularly in the early developing years, that their perspective was essential to the understanding of the history.

One of the American interviews was with Lewis Dugger. Lewis was a member of a group of drillers who came to the UK during the Second World War with the Noble Drilling Company to assist with a top secret drilling operation deep in Sherwood Forest near Eakring in the East Midlands. Lewis and his British and American fellow workers at Eakring, are, in human terms, the forerunners of the North Sea industry. Many of their number were among the first to work in the gas fields of the southern North Sea in the 1960s.

While those interviewed were, for the most part, involved in the North Sea oil and gas industry in some capacity, the programme also included people whose lives or work had, in other ways, been affected by the industry.

For each interview a short summary was prepared. This summary is the principal finding aid for researchers wishing to use the material now and in the future. The summaries are kept at the University of Aberdeen and can be seen on the website of The British Library National Life Stories (subject to interviewee consent) and are accessible to researchers anywhere in the world. This website can be found at

Activities carried out during the project programme included a major national conference, many presentations at national and international conferences and publications in print and broadcast form. The project was the subject of a BBC Radio 4 Archive Hour programme broadcast in April 2003 and repeated in September 2004.

It is worth noting that a number of people interviewed for the project have since died. Their passing highlights the importance of the creation of their very personal records. Thanks to the project their recorded voices live on for the benefit of future researchers and historians with an interest in this extraordinary industry.



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Department of History · University of Aberdeen · Aberdeen AB24 3FX