In 1986 the oil price dropped dramatically, at one stage falling below $8 a barrel.

This had many cataclysmic effects, including mass redundancies, the cancellation of projects, and a wave of mergers across the industry.

One of many stories that came out of the oil price crash concerned the British independent oil company Tricentrol.

James Longcroft, the autocratic chairman of Tricentrol, summoned the head of the personnel department to his office.

When the head of personnel arrived Longcroft did not invite him to sit down, but instead asked him:

“How much do we spend each year on the personnel department? What is the annual budget?”

“About £250,000 I think, James,” came the reply. “Do you want me to let you have a precise figure?”

“No,” said Longcroft, “Just get them all out by Friday.” He then returned to the paperwork on his desk. So far as he was concerned the meeting was over.

The head of personnel turned to leave, but then had second thoughts and said “James, does that include me?”

Longcroft looked up from his papers only briefly: “you’re in the personnel department, aren’t you?”

Tricentrol itself fell victim to the crash when it was acquired by the American oil company Arco two years later.


See also: Fish and Chips

Chris Thorpe

Chris Thorpe is a respected independent lawyer in the upstream oil and gas industry, and an established lecturer and author. Chris has a LLB in law from Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained as a barrister in London. He worked for eight years' as an in-house lawyer for BP and Marathon. Since 1991, Chris has run his own upstream legal practice, CPTL, which has acted for many upstream clients. He has extensive experience of international upstream transactions, principally in the North Sea, the FSU, Africa and the Middle East. Chris has spoken at many UK and International Conferences and Seminars, both public and in-house. His most popular current lecture is Fundamental of Upstream Petroleum Agreements, a two-day course with accompanying book.