I bought basic plastic bottles from the grocery to collect oil samples!
By Marc Bourdat, published on March 21st, 2018, modified on March 28th, 2018
As the Head of Geological Operations in Bandar Seri Begawan, my job was to supervise employees offshore. Once the drilling of a well was completed I would issue the well conclusion report highlighting the oil and gas discoveries that had been made. It was a classic exploration phase full of uncertainty. The subsidiary had just opened and basically we had to deal with everything on our own.
The first time l went offshore to MLJ, I had to buy the first plastic containers to collect oil samples. Norrnally, these are very specific bottles and it's compulsory to follow a strict protocol but in Brunei, in 1987, we didn't have such a thing. I just bought bottles from the grocery shop downstairs! This was how things worked at our office from the very beginning. Elf already had two small subsidiaries in South East Asia, one in Kuala Lumpur and the other in Jakarta, but Brunei was the remotest one.
The city of Begawan was so quiet. Communication wise, everything was sent to Paris either by telex or by fax. When we had to send a sample or something bigger, DHL was in charge and it took three days for it to reach its destination. The airport was brand new and there were only two flights a day to Singapore. I really loved my time there.
At the end of 1988, I was supposed to go back with my family but it never happened. Headquarters needed to decide about the future of our company in Brunei. Things turned out that the production would only start in ten years time! Personally, it remains a great experience.