From 1986 until about 2000, the oil industry lived with weak prices. When the global oil price dropped to around $14, as it did several times, this precipitated the cancellation of projects and a round of redundancies.
The redundancies were usually done as a percentage figure, announced with a fanfare to the financial press – an overall staff reduction of, say, 10%. Some companies applied these cuts too mechanically, leaving themselves short of essential operational skills.
This is one of our few second-hand tales from the arena, which I heard from a member of the human resources department in one of the majors.
Lacking the seasoned staff to drill an exploration well offshore Angola, the HR department was told to contact a drilling manager who had recently been made redundant, and ask him to return as a consultant to manage the well. He could name his price.
They discovered that he had spent some of his pay-off starting a fish and chip shop in Aberdeen. He ignored their letters, and when they called him he put the phone down. So two of them flew up to Aberdeen to make him an offer he could not refuse.
They arrived at his shop at lunchtime. There was a long queue. They felt distinctly uncomfortable in their suits and ties, as they bypassed the queue, hailed the driller as an old friend, and told him the good news.
“If you are here for fish and chips,” he said, “then kindly join the back of the queue. If you are not here for fish and chips, then kindly piss off.”
See also: Personnel