Category Archives: Work

The National Public Holiday – Luanda

So yesterday Wednesday was a National Public Holiday. No one however knew about it. The entire country was only informed of this decision at 18h on Tuesday evening on national TV. Classic.

2008-09 - Elections 01

The Elections are Coming! Both MPLA and Unita flags proudly displayed in the capital. The pic is a bit out of focus. 🙁

We were sent an email about it, well I wasn’t, but the BP guys were, and they forwarded it on to me. I then called Maria who would be in the know. It was 22h15, and not too late I thought. Well, I woke her up. I apologised and asked her about the public holiday.

“Yes, it is a National public holiday!” she exclaimed. This as opposed to a normal public holiday?

Well, I landed up going to work as I was in town in the morning to get my work permit sorted out at SRC – that is turning into an even bigger nightmare, but more on that later – and then I had a telecon in the afternoon for another issue, so just decided to do the work thing and catchup with documentation and emails.

Crap, but I got through a lot, so it was good.

The evening was spent at Cais de Quatro, a restaurant on the Ilha on the bay side, which was nice. I ordered the 2400Kz Garoupa fillet with chips. It was pretty good. The entire bill came to 15 300Kz for 3 of us. Bradley (the architect), Steven (the techie) and myself. Yip R 1 500 for 2 guys and that is pretty much the norm. Madness huh!

Well Elections tomorrow, on Friday the 5th. Gonna be interesting.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Living Life

Back in Action to get Flat! – Luanda

So, I am back in Luanda, weighing in at a meek 87Kgs. The heaviest I have ever been in my life!! and I thought the bulges I was seeing on my tummy was my six pack developing. It was developing alright! Just not the way I was wanting it to! 🙁

So I have decided that I am gonna put some serious effort now into getting fit and slim for my return to Cape Town in Mid November, so that I can hopefully show off my new build. And not have to squeeze into my jeans and go out and buy more clothes because I am getting fat! Also there is a serious competition developing between the Pharmacist, who is weighing in at over 100Kgs, and myself to be fitter than the other by my return, Friday, November 14th. We’ll see. I’ve got an easier task I know, but he might show more improvement in which case I guess he will get the prize, whatever that is. Maybe a Steers Combo 1! 🙂

So I have purchased a little trinket to help me on my way. A Garmin Forerunner 405, and thus far it is pretty sweet. Really cool. It does GPS Positioning, has a Heart rate monitor strap, and can be tuned for running or cycling, using distance, or purely time. The display can also be customised to display whatever you want whilst training. Distance, HR, Pace, etc etc etc. At a bank breaking R4000 it ain’t cheap, but then when you start looking at the capabilities and you start comparing, you realise it is pretty much a good deal. It has the option of a footpod and bicycle add-on for road running and cycling, and obviously those are extras, but the rest of the features add up greatly in it’s defence. So far I like it, and I will be blogging more of my experiences with it as time goes by.

I’ll also be creating a new category: Fitness, and will add in all my logs and graphs, the application produces graphs for display, so you can see how I am coming on, and offer encouragement . . .  or laugh at how unfit I am!!

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Living Life!

82 Days . . . Let’s Do IT – Luanda

So, I am back. Have been for just over a week now. I am blogging again too, as my WordPress is fully working again now. Thanks Andre! 🙂

What did he do to fix it??

(11:08:06 AM) Andre: try it
(11:09:00 AM) Nunnsby: busy trying . . . angolan telecoms f*cked, so net access tempermental
(11:09:13 AM) Nunnsby: ahhh, u biscuit!!
(11:09:15 AM) Nunnsby: so what was wrong?
(11:09:21 AM) Andre: erm
(11:09:25 AM) Andre: very good question
(11:09:28 AM) Andre: i have no idea
(11:09:28 AM) Nunnsby: yeah?
(11:09:33 AM) Nunnsby: so, what you do?
(11:09:49 AM) Andre: i tweaked and touched a few things but i’m not sure what actually made it work

Gotta love mates in the know! Well, all I know is that it is now working fine and that is cool.

So, I am now in country for 82 days. Why 82 days?? well that was always part of the deal. In fact 90 days at a time was part of the deal. Discovery Health cover us out of the country for up to 90 days, so we return to South Africa every 90 days to make sure our Discovery cover doesn’t fall by the way. Also gives the guys a bit of time back with their families and loved ones. which you definitely need after having worked anywhere in Africa for any period of time.

But you said 82 days, not 90. Well, I have a wedding on the 15th November. Alan’s. And as he is Technical Services Director – I think – I don’t quite see anyone giving me grief about heading home a week early for that. So I will be heading home on Fri the 14th November. A big night at Oblivion that night that is for sure. 🙂

So, I’m up for 82 days, and that gives me plenty of time to get my blogging fingers back in action and write down all the usual stuff that is keeping me occupied. And plenty on things on the go this time around: Elections, Offshore to the Sedco Express, Torres Atlantico Project, House renovations, etc, etc, etc.

Pictures to follow soon.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Living Life!

Having a Whale of a Time Fishing – Luanda

I managed to get to go Deep Sea Fishing today with a few of the BP guys, and it was pretty cool. We didn’t get any fish, but we did see a pod of 3 whales! Nice!

2008-07 - 01 Shipwreck Ilha 2008-07 - 02 Shipwreck Ilha

Shipwrecks – Ilha – On the Beach, and in the Bay!

The Angolan coastline, and ironically enough the inner bay, is absolutely littered with wrecks of all kinds. The trip from the Club Nautico – the “yacht club” is an interesting one. You motor past wrecks of all shapes and sizes, in various different locations. Some in the middle of the bay, others tucked up against the beach, some just left to sink where they are moored.

The swell as we rounded the point out of the bay was a tiny bit compressed and we got a few good jumps travelling at the speed we were, considering we had 2 x 200HP motors on the back, it wasn’t surprising. 🙂 We headed out past the various cargo vessels, 20 in all, all at anchor just outside the bay, and went directly west for a few miles. The swell was very flat and long out here and if there was a meter difference it was a freak swell. Talk about the fish pond effect.

The weather was overcast and pretty nippy and we were all wearing jumpers. That extra bit colder here out on the water. Luanda is definitely not as warm as it is supposed to be this winter. But hey, still warmer than Cape Town! 🙂 After having trawled for around 2 hours or so, with not even a strike, we came across a baleia (whale) just off a car carrier vessel in fairly deep water. We slowed down and tried to get closer. It dipped back down after we saw it, but then surfaced again off our starboard bow. A minute or 2 passed when suddenly 2 surfaced just behind us, literally 15 meters off our stern. They majestically rose, blew out and slowly arched over back into the water. On the next surface, there were the 2 on our port side when suddenly a 3rd surfaced on our starboard. They were together on the surface and we in pursuit from there.

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A Pod of Angolan Whales! 🙂

We followed them for about an hour or so, keeping a fairly manageable distance, and I must say they seems pretty un-phased by us. They went under the boat twice, and even surfaced really close, like less than 10 metres, running parallel to us on the one time. It was quite amazing how majestic and graceful they moved, and on a few occasions we got the “tail” as they disappeared below the water.

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Angolan Whale Tail!

Around 12h30 we made the decision to head back in. This after we had passed about 5 local fishing “boats” who all reported no catches, apart from one little fish the size of my forearm.

The rest of the day spent watching the Tennis!

Yes NADAL! 🙂

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life

Luanda Landscapes

So, I finally managed to get right onto the building roof, and remembered to take my camera. 🙂

2008-07 - RoofTop01

Looking down on Luanda!

This is not so much a blog, as just a series of pics of what Luanda truly looks like. Well the CBD that is.

2008-07 - RoofTop02

The SanLuanda hotel construction site.

A new Luxury Hotel with about 240 rooms, 50 suites, indoor pool, 3 restaurants (I think) – one panoramic one right at the top, bars, and a gym. It’s going to be pretty sweet when done. You probably can’t see, but there are 11 cranes in this picture. Now that is development!

2008-07 - RoofTop03

Beauty in the Beast!

An old original building that is being renovated, and made into a restaurant – I think once again.

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The Lovely Banco Nacional de Luanda.

Even better view from the front, but I don’t have those pics here. Those are dredging pipes in the background, not oil -pill pipes.

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Torres Atlantico, with Fortaleza in the background.

The fancy new Torres Atlantico building stands out in stark comparrison to what is around it, apart from the Sonangol building, which I couldn’t see from this roof. Hmmmm . . . maybe I can get onto the TA roof. 🙂

2008-07 - RoofTop06

A new apartment block being built by our friends the Chinese.

It will house retail, office, and residential, and will be massive as you can see.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life

Getting Out . . . To The Ghettos – Luanda

So on Sunday we, PG and myself, went to Bellas to go see a movie: The Incredible Hulk, which was actually really good. I thought it was cool. The really scary thing for me was how much we actually just take really good special effects for granted nowadays.

2008-06 01 - Coke Truck

The “This Is Africa” German Coke Truck!

After seeing IronMan a few weeks back :), and now this, it is just normal to see a CGI movie, and actually think that what you are seeing in there, you could walk out of the cinema and see in real life. Some green dude running down the road. Really freaky the way it starts to blur the lines of reality.

Well, at R60 for the Movie and R60 for the Popcorn and a Can on Sprite, it was an expensive experience. Little Portuguese kids shouting and talking the whole time through-out. Really little Portuguese children crying – like months old babies – who’s parents obviously decided they weren’t going to miss out on this on the big screen, and just had to come. And no one said anything about it. That is the most amazing thing. It is just the done thing. Man, and I like my quiet movie theaters! Haha, experience of note.

So on the way back the driver, not one of the usual 2 we have, they have the weekend off now, decided that he was not going to go the normal route, as the road was rammed, so he would go another route, a shorter route. Cool, PG was happy as we would be back in time for the Footie: Spain vs Germany!

Well, we drove and drove and then the light was gone and the road went from being 2 lane tarred, to one lane tarred, to one lane dirt, to just a complete tailback. We were stuck in traffic. Lots of traffic. Then we got nudged from behind by another vehicle in the middle of this chaos. Our driver, though not very good with the Safety Procedures just climbs out, leaves the door open with the engine running and walks back to check the damage. I leant over, closed the door, and locked it. Now it’s not like anyone would try hijack us, as we were going nowhere in that traffic, but the safety factor is till very much an unknown! And not a f#ck was I getting out to check the issue. These guys still carry guns around here. Plus the location wasn’t the most inspiring I will say.

So, the damage was minimal, just a nudge actually, nothing doing, and we carried on at a walk. In fact at one stage people walking past were going faster than we were. We continued on this road a while longer, and then the road stopped. There was some detour and loads of construction, and the driver was a bit foxed, but we carried on down another “short-cut”. It was around about now that I saw a plane coming into land on our left, about a km away. This was mildly concerning as the airport is a way out of town, and should have either been in front of us, or to our right on this trip back. We went through a fairly busy crossroad/taxi-rank intersection, and had to slow down considerably as we did so. All the onlookers on the side of the road were inquisitively peering into the vehicle to see what was inside. Plenty of chaps staring directly at me or leaning closer into the vehicle to get a good look. It was around about now that I started to feel, for the first time since being in Luanda, uneasy about being a non-Portuguese speaking expat. Hey easy for PG and our driver, the 2 BLACK dudes in the car, however for the white guy upfront, it could be a problem. The thing that I was actually nipping about the most was not really me being white, but the fact that we had a driver in full uniform, easily identifiable by the lapels and clothes he was wearing, so I was more nervous about us being identified as being of a “wealthy industry” and therefore “hijackable”. Blame the stories I hear from certain people about Nigeria I guess.

We continued on along this dirt road, the traffic now becoming less and less, and far more free-flowing, until it took another detour . . . to the right. i.e. further away from Luanda. At around about this stage the driver pulled over again, flagged down a passing car, and walked over, once again leaving the door open. Here however was a perfect place for Hijackings, so once again I leant over, closed and locked the door. This time he got “better” directions . . .  back the way we came! I asked him if we now knew where we were going, and he replied everything was good. “Don’t worry, you are Safe.” he chimed. We turned around and started along the road for a while longer, this time slowly heading back in the general direction of the airport.  A bit further down the road we came across a police man, on foot, walking in the direction we were travelling. Appears the directions we had gotten were still not sufficient, so our driver pulled over and we got a bit of direction advice from the policeman. After both repeating the same few words time and again, something to do with forwards, the driver suddenly tells us the Cop is getting a lift with us to help with directions. “Don’t worry, it is good for us.” Appears our driver wasn’t feeling as “safe” as we were supposed to be! 🙁 So our cop got a lift, and we got fairly good directions.

About 30 minutes later of driving through the slums, we emerged onto the main road back into Luanda. We were now quite a few miles past the airport, and it was very interesting to figure out roundabout route we had taken. On our way out of the “slums” we passed loads of sidewalk “shebeens”, with guys standing around drinking and chilling. The taxis out here controlled the road, and had absolutely no regard for the rules of the road or anyone else. A few constantly suddenly stopping directly in front of us, without any sign of a warning, and not caring a damn when the driver leant out and shouted or hooted at him. Once again, the Angolan Attitude showed it’s colours – Me First!

Yet, the surprises were not going to end here. At the one junction that we were definitely supposed to turn left, the driver decides to turn right. Into a one-way. Man, that delayed us another 30 minutes. At thsi stage I was fuming, but there was no point in getting cross now, as there was nothing further to be done. We were now less than 3 kms from home, so it was just sit back and wait.

So, over 2 hours after leaving Bellas, A trip that should take just less than an hour, we arrived home, to just get the last the 30 mins or so of the footie.

PG was well pleased.

So, looking back now in hindsight: It was a bit nerve-wracking at the time, but very informative and interesting to see “how the other 80%” actually live. To see the environment and habitat. The challenges for the Government are HUGE! Can something like this ever be undone? Unlikely. Can this poverty ever really be eradicated or the people truly uplifted and provided for? It is going to take a while. A long while. I don’t think it will ever happen in my life-time. Nor my next generation’s. Something like this doesn’t change over night I can promise you that much. Not even with the amount of money that Angola currently has, or is making. It starts with education and empowerment. And, the way things are going with the amount of Chinese coming in and most of the infrastructure work being outsourced to them, it is a long way off. A lot of Angolans are already very upset with the way things are going, the slow rate of progress, the lack of visible infrastructure, the lack of creation of jobs or better conditions for the local people, the excessive wealth that Sonangol (the state owned oil company) is displaying. However with only one ruling party, there isn’t much they can do about it. Unfortunately.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving being Alive! 🙂

Back on Land – Launda

Bummed! 🙁

Well here I am back on dry land. The flight back from the Rig was fine, and direct, which made a change to having to route via Soyo. This we were told when the pilots arrived on board with the inbound flight. They said the Wind was good and they still had enough fuel, so it was good to go. Great. Just a quick 1h30 flight, and we were back in Luanda.

2008-06 04 - Lunch CGI

My R 135.00 Lunch!

Got take-aways today, we do this every now and again. I just couldn’t resist this though. This was lunch from a few days ago. There is some steak, chips, and egg, rice and a bit of coleslaw, along with a Sprite, and 2 x Pastis de Nata. Nice. All this for a mere 135 Bucks, and I am talking South African Rands! Yeah 1350 Kwanzas. Okay, fair play that is one of the more expensive meals, but that is the general quantity and quality of food you get over here. Pretty mental huh?

Weather has been cooler now, but I have also been told that apparently this is their dry season.  Winter the dry season, so more in line with JHB weather. Which kinda makes sense I guess.

Hopefully getting out another rig next week for another site visit. The Sedco Express, which is more of a platform than a rig vessel, though it does move around. Do a  search on Google Images for pictures of it.

Hopefully that means I get to do a bit of the living large bit, travelling by chopper and all, otherwise, I guess I will have to hang around here with the rest of the landlubbers and minions.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life

Offshore 2 – GSF Explorer – Luanda

After arriving back in Luanda from my quick excursion to the FPSO, I was immediately bundled into a little 12 seater twin prop and was flown off to the GSF Explorer.

2008-06 03 - GSF CGI

A CGI of the GSF Explorer – for size compare the height of the Derrick to the size of the Heli deck. It is massive.

So I arrived back at the Sonair Charter Terminal,and was required to check in again for my next flight. Destination: Soyo, a little town right on the northern border of Angola, just below Congo. This time round however the passport emigration official decided that my visa wasn’t good enough to allow me to fly to Soyo. This after I had just seen him write down that an American was a South African in his passport register. And they wonder why we call it Africa? So, after a brief discussion with the man, to the amusement of the 6 or so yanks that were all going to be my travelling companions, he decided to hold my passport and continue with the rest, as he wasn’t happy. I spoke to the check in official, who came and had words, and the next thing I knew I was being very unhappily waved through the door, with passport in hand. It still hadn’t been registered in the Register, but hey, that wasn’t my problem.

I managed to get a cake out of the food counter, before we headed off to the plane. Twice! The first time we stopped, got out and started offloading our things from the bus, when the guy hastily rushed back and told us to get back on. 2 planes down, we got out again. It was a tiny craft, you could probably squeeze 3 economy seats in it in a row side to side and that would be it. There were 2 rows of seats on either side, with a very restrictive aisle in the middle. I landed up next to an emergency exit, but default, but was happy with arrangement, as the aisle wasn’t going to be serving anyone in an accident!

We landed at Soyo, after circling for a few minutes, another plane was landing,so we had to wait. We were met on the tarmac by a slick looking gent in half a fancy suit who took our passports whilst another dude herded us through passport control and out to the bus. On the bus he told us he would take care of our passports, and that he would bring them to us at the base, as we needed to watch the safety video. My 4th in 4 days. Nice! There is a bit of a funny procedure when entering Kwanza base. The bus stops at the entrance, you get out and walk past barriers, whilst the bus drives through, and then you get back in on the other side, with no intervention at all. The base is huge and the choppers are housed in just a massive warehouse, and it doesn’t appear that BP actually has a presence there. It is mainly only a chopper terminal/hanger where we went. I befriended a stocky looking chap on the way to the chopper. He was from Louisiana, and had pretty much worked everywhere, except here in Africa. All the guys in fact besides myself were Yanks, and they were all returning, apart from Kirk, the Louisiana dude, who was here for his first time. The flight out was good, in a different chopper this time, but still pleasant, and I actually got a few mins dos time on this one. Our pilots were Saffas and they were really good. Touch down was pretty good I must say.

So once again, I arrived on yet another really imposing vessel. The Derrick  (lifting tower) sticks out meters above the deck and on this vessel is particularly huge. I’ll be honest in saying that I don’t know much about the oil industry at all, especially the drilling side. The only thing I know is Oil Strike on Discovery Channel,and even then I’ve only seen a bit. I know they drill into the ground using the Derrick to guide pipes and push the drill bit down, but I don’t know much else. Well, we had another safety briefing, this time far more focused on Fire and Escape plans, and especially alarm signals. We got another tour of the vessel, and it was immediately apparent that this was definitely an older, working vessel. There was no lift, the stairwell is the backbone of the vessel, the cabins are older in appearance, with communal bathroom areas – we were advised to wear towels as there was a woman on board, I’m guessing the medic – and the vessel itself was much more worn and used.

Once you are on the deck you suddenly begin to realise just how huge the Derrick is. We were shown where all the life rafts and emergency muster points were and once again had the alarm signals and the drills reinforced.

After the tour I returned to my room, then went for supper, and then off to do some work and find out if I could actually fix the problem, as at this stage I wasn’t sure if I was the man for the job, or of I could actually do what was required of me! Supper was pretty good, but very much boarding house/canteen food. But the vessel was predominantly American, funny that considering it belonged to Transocean, which is a giant Rigging company out of the States, so it makes sense that the food is American style. They have syrup on the tables, with all sorts of other American things, including a Hurricane Watch board for the Caribbean.

So, the number one phrase on the vessel: “What’s going on?” This however has to be pronounced “Watts goin ahhhhnnnn?” in a thick Southern American accent. Then you fit right in.

I got down to work and managed to fix the problem in about 2 hours, which was pretty good for me, considering I had to reconfigure a switch from scratch, and I haven’t been on a switch in a long time! 🙂 The guys were happy that I sorted them out and I was pretty chuffed myself too. The old bugger still has it in him. I do enjoy the techy stuff! I retired to the bedroom,which I then discovered was mine as the other occupant was off rotation at them moment, so I watched half a DVD on my laptop before going to sleep with one hell of a headache, that I can only think must have been caused by either dehydration, or possibly the motion of the vessel. Just weird that. At one stage before I fell asleep it was so bad I actually considered going to the Medic for paracetamol, but it was alright and I eventually fell asleep.

Day 2 saw me getting out with the one BP guy Iain, who gave me a full tour of the vessel with all the explanations, and answered all my questions, very patiently I might add, and I am now a pro on this drilling thing. For laymen only that is! I even got to go across the drilling deck, which is just amazing to be there, having seen it so many times on TV and documentaries. I got to the control room too, and watched the operations as they continue, and it is quite an experience, coming from a completely external outside environment. All I can say is the Oil Industry, specifically the exploration side, like this, is just mind-blowing.

This vessel the GSF (Global Sante Fe) Explorer was originally built as a submarine retriever for the CIA, for project Jennifer,  by Howard Hughes, from Avaitor Fame in 1973, and was later retrofitted to be used for drilling purposes. I have included a few links at the bottom of this page, for those interested, and it is pretty interesting actually. This is a deep water rig,mening that they typically only start drilling a deep depths. Anywhere between 500 and 2500 metres down. Which is pretty amazing if you think of it, and is really incredible for me who has come from a diving background too. So once again I can’t say much about what goes on, only that this is a seriously advanced vessel, and to me makes the FPSO look pale in comparison, but I suppose I didn’t really get a technical low-down on how that vessel operated. Plus this to me is far more technical oriented, as you actually get to “see” what you are doing, or at least “see” the things happening!

Anyway, I am due to be off here tomorrow, was supposed to be off today, but there was no flight, so no doubt I will have a few more stories then. Bed time now, and hopefully a lot more sleep.

Info on the GSF:

GSF Transocean Page

The Cold War of Terror

US Hands over Info on Sunken Soviet Sub

Wikipedia – USNS Glomar Explorer (T-AG-193)

Wikipedia – Project Jennifer

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life.

Offshore – FPSO – Luanda

I managed to get scheduled for a trip to the BP Greater Plutonio FPSO (Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading) vessel just offshore from Luanda. At this stage I unfortunately don’t have any pics, as I wasn’t sure what the procedure for pics was, and I know they are pretty tight about it, but I have asked the Telecoms guy there to send me a few, so hopefully I’ll be able to update this a bit later with some then.

2008-06 01 - FPSO CGI

A CGI picture of the FPSO – Looks small? It is 310m long, and 12 stories high!

Okay, I can’t really say much about the vessel itself, the layout, or operation, or any of that – NDA stuff, but what I can say is it is pretty amazing! (I have included several links at the bottom of the blog for those interested in knowing more). It is 310 Metres long, and 12 stories high. It has a lift inside that services 7 floors. It can accommodate approx 140 people. The accommodation section is the big white building at the rear, and this is split from the “plant” area by a fire break/safety “air area” – the gap just in front of the accommodation block. We arrived by chopper, and what an experience.

So the flight was from the Sonair charter “terminal” at the airport and was scheduled for around 14h. We checked in at 12h30 and everything went fine. I only had my laptop bag, with my laptop, and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) – you are required to take as much of your own PPE with you as they can’t provide everything for everyone –  overalls, gloves and goggles in my bag, along with 3 shirts, 3 boxers and 3 socks inside it. My boots and helmet were separate in a plastic packet. Well, that got turfed. You are not allowed to take any plastic on board, so they gave me a mail bag, with Explorer written on it (BP use a drill rig called GSF Explorer in another area further out to sea), that I put my helmet and boots in. We then waited for the flight to be ready.

After the bus ride through the airport tarmacs, we arrived at a Sikorsky S-76C+ helicopter that was to be our ride.

2008-06 02 Sikorsky Chopper

A picture of a Sikorsky S-76C+ chopper. Similar to the SonAir ones.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_S-76)

This was pretty much my first time in a chopper, though I do think I have been in one  before, in fact, yes, I have been in a chopper before, but this was great. It actually taxis down onto the runway,and you pretty much expect it to travel down the runway on the wheels before taking off, but whilst you are in place, it just lifts up straight up, leans forward and flies off. Pretty strange feeling. The noise as the engines power up for the lift is pretty nerve wracking, and the whole heli shakes quite a bit. Next thing you are airborne and flying out past the Ilha and soon the coast is behind you.

The one thing they teach you in the HUET course, or advise you against, is sleeping in the chopper, yet within 5 minutes virtually everyone on board is asleep. This is due to the very monotonous and soothing vibrations that he flight produces. As it was my first offshore flight I remained awake the entire time. Though I don’t know if I’ll be doing that again on the rest of the flights. Soon we were above a cloud base that had appeared offshore, and about 30 mins later we descended through this to see the ocean once again. As we cleared the cloud base, everything around us was pure white, and you couldn’t see anything. I was watching the guy opposite me, and it was obviously his first flight as I could see the entire white of his eyes. He was nervous as hell. However, once we cleared the clouds, he was cool.

We soon arrived at our destination, and the pilot informs you of this before you arrive. This according to statistics is the highest risk time for accidents – Landings. I once again checked my exit strategy, luckily being right next to the door you kinda have THE exit strategy. 🙂 The vessel looks small at first, but the closer you get to it the larger it gets, until you soon realise that this thing is friggin massive! The flame was burning a bright orange colour from the top of gas flare, the long tower at the front of the vessel, and that was an incredible site to see it so close.  There was virtually no smoke coming from the vessel at all, and it was just gigantic when you finally arrived. The landing was great and we waited for the signal from the HLO’s (Helicopter Landing Officers), before removing our earphones, unbuckling and exiting, just ducking as you reach the rim of the rotor reach. Once inside we removed our foam inner ear plugs, and started to take in our surroundings. I noticed my mailbag being carted off to the admin section, and quickly retrieved it.

We were met by Steve our Telecoms man on board, and first thing had to attend a Safety briefing. After that we were shown to our cabins, and given a tour of the vessel in full PPE, as you are required to wear it every time you are outside. The vessel’s structure is quite amazing, and what is even more amazing to me is that there are people out there who thought this up! How to build something like this and how to put it together! That blows my mind more than anything else. This module to that module to there and there, and then eventually to the tanker waiting for the oil. So, as you can all read, this puppy can produce up to 200 000 barrels of oil A DAY, with storage capacity for 1.7 million barrels, and exports of 1 million barrels per cargo, every 5 days. Now you have to admit that that is seriously impressive. You do  the math,using an approximate oil price of $130 per barrel. Ouch!! 😮

On our tour around, I got to put my hands on the oil pipeline that comes in from the sea, and the most interesting thing is . . . it is warm. Apparently the oil comes in at around 50-60 degrees centigrade. Now, it is not something that I had ever thought about, the temperature of oil, but I was surprised to find that it is warm. We were also shown the sun deck, the most important part of the vessel, and the only part you can go without PPE gear. I also happened to see a pod of dolphins frolicking in the sea quite close by. The vis out here is awesome . . . and that’s not due to it being cold! 🙂

I fixed the issue we were sent out for, and also had a really good site visit of what is onboard, and what is fully expected of us in a support role.

The vessel is stationary – fixed in place, yet at times I could definitely feel it move. Not a lot, but ever so slightly. Steve reckons I am mad, but I tell, I could feel it moving. Whether it was rolling or just rising in the swell, not a lot of that either, I couldn’t tell. But, it definitely moves.

I got a wee bit of time in on the sundeck the one day. Half an hour in the sun before lunch, and I now know why a lot of the guys have such dark tans, for blokes that spend their entire time indoors or in PPE kit. They don’t! There were quite a few chaps outside on the sun deck, and it is like a magnet I am told – sun. Especially since it is overcast quite a bit apparently.

The accommodation was okay, apart from the fact that I think a tank had slept in my bed before, as the mattress was squashed flat on the one side! Other than that is was okay, and each cabin has it’s own bathroom with a shower with great pressure in it, which makes a change from the Luanda Res! Our pressure is crap! The food was decent too, as ship food goes I guess, though I still must say the FSV Bourbon Oceanteam 101 had the best food I have yet had offshore.

There is a gym onboard, I never got to use it as I wasn’t feeling great, and a little cinema too. The one lounge also has table tennis. 3 or 4 TV rooms litter the vessel, with each cabin also having it’s own TV. And overnight/same day laundry.

Outside the heliport entrace door is a big sign bolted onto the side of the wall: HYUNDAI. They apparently built this vessel. Ummm, okay, that is a change from the crappy cars we get back home!! 🙂

The one thing I must say, is that it appears to be very well organised and everything is in it’s place. Very “Prim and Proper”, in typical Brit style.

Thursday I was contacted by the offshore network manager and told that we needed to send someone to the GSF Explorer – an offshore rig, as they required someone for an installation/support issue there too. I offered myself as it was Francisco’s 30th Birthday on Sunday, and his wife had plans for him already. Friday morning I suddenly find out all hell has broken loose as there was now a chopper coming out to get me specifically for the trip to GSF and it has caused absolute chaos as it hasn’t been properly approved, or the correct channels haven’t been used. Classic! Eventually that was straightened out and I was scheduled to head out Saturday morning via chopper to Kwanza base in Soyo, up North on the Congo border to refuel and then fly from there to the GSF. Cool,  I haven’t been there yet. 🙂

I arrived in the departure “lounge” at 08h Saturday morning, watched the safety video – another one again – and pull out my laptop to do a bit of last minute work. A while later, I realise it is past 09h. Hold on, my flight is supposed to be at 09h. I check with the guy to be told that everything has changed. I am now going to be flying back to Luanda with the Sedco Express guys (a rig close by) and then heading by fixed wing to Soyo on a plane, and then to the GSF by chopper from there. Cool, even more travelling, and experiences. Throw it at me. I reckon this travelling is costing them a small fortune, like my entire yearly salary (haha), but that is the nature of the beast I guess. 🙂

The flight eventually arrived around 11h or so, and I was gone. Grabbing my bag on exit, I once gain noticed EXPLORER on the side of the mail bag . . . Coincidence? I think not! Once again a quick look at the incredible structure before it slips out of view, and we ascend to the heavens again.

Interested in the BP FPSO – Greater Plutonio? Read more:

Production Begins at Greater Plutonio

Plutonio – Transportation and trade

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life.

Living Luanda – Luanda

I’M BACK! 🙂 I have already added a few more posts since the last time, and prior to this one, which those of you with RSS would have already picked up.

Well, this is just a quick few lines to report on the a bit of nothing actually. Well, not really nothing. It is more of a general update on what life has been like here for the last few weeks that I have been here this “tour of duty”. And also to show off a few more pics! 🙂

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1. The Marginal (Promenade) with the National Bank in the foreground on the left, and the brand new Torres Atlantico Building on the right! Our new premises at some stage.

2. The usual Petrol chaos at the garages. It is like this every day and night. And Fuel is R4 a litre. Read and Weep!!

3. The Angolan equivalent of Maccy D’s

4. Mobile Clinics and Chinese quality control for construction!

Today I saw my first stab victim first hand! It was pretty horrific I must say. Some dude staggering down the road being supported/led by two guys, one on either side of him. He had his hands on his stomach, and both hands were just covered in thick red blood. Pretty crazy actually.

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5. Locksmith – Angolan Style

6. WTF??

We had our pantry door lock replaced the other day and had to get access to the room – Angolan Style (5).

I also arrived home 2 days ago to find that my light bulb in my room was LEAKING WATER (6)! I mean come on . . . WTF is that all about??? The water was actually running down the INSIDE of the electrical cabling to the light bulb! It’s a miracle it didn’t short the whole house when I flipped the switch!

I started gymming again this last week. At $100 a month I can tell you I will be going at least 6 days a week. It is nothing special, and is really small. Like really small, but has really good equipment, all the latest Technogym equipment, with a few pieces I haven’t even seen in SA too.

2 Xbox games have been already finished twice over by Warren,and I have a had a round or 2, but not much really. Been way to busy with work actually. Just got loads on at the mo, so it has been good.

Oh, and we finally got our power sorted issues sorted. Well, kind of.The guy came along one night and split the power loads that was on the breakers to balance it out a bit more. It has been stable since then,so we can only hope it is not sorted. They did it at night, and had to shut the power off, so he decided to wire a bulb directly to the city power coming in. As you can see in the picture below (7), it was another Angolan “job”. How he tested it was working? He licked his finger and briefly touched the contact to see if it “was alive”. I would have thought that he would have known by the massive spark that came off the contact when the connected it up.

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7. Connecting a light bulb directly to the City Power.

8. The “fancy” underpass with the usual traffic queues trying to get into the city.

Monday is another  public holiday, we had one last week too. This Monday I think is definitely gonna be spent on the beach, or at least in the sun! Definitely gonna bring my beach bats up when I come back next time!

More to follow soon. Plus I’ll be updating y’all on my 2 weeks back in ZA recently.

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

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