The oil and gas industry might not one immediately associated with Christmas, but whist the home fires are burning and presents are being wrapped, hundreds of men and women will be working offshore to ensure we all have a holly, jolly and well fuelled Christmas. There are even a few reminders of the festive season all year round for those braving cold North Sea platforms in the winter.
By now most of us will have picked out our Christmas tree and decked it out with baubles and holly, wrapped it in lights and have left a trail of cookie crumbs so Santa knows where to leave the presents.
Offshore however, “Christmas tree” is another name given to a specific piece of equipment which monitors and controls the production of a subsea well which doesn’t feature any tinsel but does get its name from resembling Christmas trees with lights and decorations. Just as with fairy topped firs and pines by the fireplace, there are a few different types of subsea trees which can be tailored and trimmed to a specific project. The deepest subsea trees are in the waters offshore Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico, with some in waters up to 10,000 feet deep.
Beloved Christmas lights also share homes both on and offshore. A lot of modern festive lights are made up of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) including the displays on Aberdeen’s Union Street. The energy saving properties of LEDs have been recognised by the oil and gas industry for decades. LEDs have been in use on offshore installations since the early 1980s, and are still in use today.
The lights are extremely suited to the working environments offshore work as they are robust, non-flickering, and nearly impossible to overheat. Many of the LEDs used on assets are of such high quality, they could last twice as long as the lights we see in city centres and outside homes across the country. The power emitted can also improve light levels on installations, making the working environment safer.
So next time you’re wandering through town admiring the lights, or popping presents under the tree remember the same technology and festive spirit is being shared by thousands of oil and gas workers safe offshore. Although the LEDs on oil rigs probably aren’t shaped like reindeer.