Oil rigs: a site of ingenuity, harmonies and hair-flips

Oil rigs: a site of ingenuity, harmonies and hair-flips

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Situated hundreds of kilometres from civilisation, working twelve-hour shifts in rather dowdy uniforms, oil rig workers aren’t usually associated with glamour or excitement. Increasingly, though, the evidence is pointing to a different reality.

Tasked with extracting oil and natural gas from far-flung locations (the open sea and remote deserts, mostly), oil rig workers live in fairly rudimentary conditions. They’ve got access to television and internet, but lack a lot of the creature comforts you and I take for granted. (Unless, of course you’re actually reading this from an oil rig. If that is the case, good on you!)

The material limitations imposed on oil rig workers, though, seem to be a prompt for creativity and general excellence.

For instance, 72 year-old great grandmother Pat Thompson recently spoke to the Daily Mail about her thirty years of experience in the industry. The drilling industry remains fairly male-dominated, but Pat’s managed to tackle this, as demonstrated the nickname given to her be her co-workers– ‘the Queen’.

For one thing, she adorns the door handle of the communal shower/bathroom with a pink towel whenever she’s using it. Ingenious! Good on ya, Pat.

As previously mentioned, oil rig crews have access to the internet. Thank God for that. This means, like everybody else on Planet Earth, they love a good viral video. Late last year, one group demonstrated this enthusiasm by making a viral vid themselves.

Lip-synching to Toto’s 1983 hit ‘Africa’, the group, whose rig is unsurprisingly situated off the west coast of Africa, produced a seven-minute epic. Featuring impressive special effects, the video sees the crew using on-board tools – from knives to defibrillators to pipes – to mimics drums and synths.

The video was shot over four weeks. Tackling one scene per day allowed the auteur director to give each section due attention. The result is spectacular:

The crew of the Bourbon Peridot are not the only group to indulge in some musical pleasures, though. Situated at a desert-based oil facility, singer Ciara* and her co-workers – all of whom are female, bucking demographic trends – made a video (and a song!) a few years ago documenting their lives.

In their video, Ciara’s crew flouts convention in terms of both uniform and pastime. Where some crews might spend their downtime watching football games, Ciara & Co recognise the importance of getting some exercise.

They execute fairly intense dance routines, undergo multiple costume changes, and also master the art of hair-flicking. Despite the name of the song, though, the girls don’t seem to do all that much work.

Ciara never returned to the oil industry after the release of ‘Work’, so we assume that she made enough money from her time at the facility – plus her ‘Work’ royalties – to move on to other things.

Given the multiple and diverse talents of those working at oil rigs, it’s pretty obvious that the producers and casting agents of So You Think You Can Dance, X Factor and Australia’s Got Talent should take a look at the staff of oil industry companies like Energy Power Systems. They’re clearly – pardon the pun – an un-tapped resource for the entertainment industry. And they sure now how to work.

*Ciara has never, to the best of our knowledge, actually worked on an oil rig. Who knows what they future may bring, though.