Of LNG and Royalty

Wednesday of this week saw the official opening of the operations phase of the Sakhalin II Project, and an inauguration ceremony held at the newly built LNG facility on the southern coast of Sakhalin Island.  Within a few weeks the project will begin shipping cargoes of LNG to customers in Korea, Japan, and the US.  The ceremony was attended by Russian president Dmitri Medvedev and various other dignitaries from Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and the UK.  The UK delegation included HRH Prince Andrew the Duke of York, who our Honorary Council persuaded to make a detour in his trip to open our new Honorary Consulate in a small ceremony to which I was invited.  From this, I can confirm that Prince Andrew can “work a room” with exceptional skill, has a sharp sense of humour which he doesn’t mind displaying, and is capable of making somewhat direct comments.  Considering who his father is, the last one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  I am glad I attended the ceremony and got to meet him.  I also had the opportunity to meet the British Ambassador to Moscow and pass on my gratitude to her embassy for bollocking the receptionist at the Belgrad Hotel in March 2004 who had dreamt up some problem with my visa which was preventing her from checking me in.  The incident happened during the reign of the previous ambassador, but I’m sure she appreciated the comment.

The inaguration ceremony of the project and the president’s visit received widespread media coverage across Russia, and one of the TV crews from Russia’s Pervii Kanal arrived a day or so earlier to make preparations.  They did so in the middle of a terrible blizzard which dumped about a metre of snow on us in 24 hours (we have had far more snow in my third winter here than in the previous two) and decided to make a small report on the conditions in Sakhalin and the presence of foreigners in the capital.  The two Australians they interview near the end of the clip are colleagues in my department, the one who speaks Russian I work with daily.

The construction phase of the Sakhalin II project is now all but over, and the number of expats left here is dwindling rapidly.  Since September 2006 I have for the large part been a very small cog…in fact, more like a grease nipple…in the massive machine which has built this project, but I’m not going to let modesty stand in the way of letting everyone know that the rock-dumping works I helped carry out on the Yuri Topchev in December were vital to the LNG facility being able to start up on time.  The Sakhalin oil and gas industry has not escaped the financial crisis gripping the world and it now looks as though there will be very little if any further construction works to keep me in employment here.  My contract runs out shortly, and I am in the process of looking for a job elsewhere.

I will have plenty to write about the current situation in Sakhalin closer to my time of departure, and yet more to write about it once I have gone.  For reasons I will explain later I am not too unhappy about the prospect of leaving, and in many ways I am looking forward to it.  I do not know where I will be going or when, but I am applying for jobs in Japan, Korea, Houston, Perth, Brisbane, Malaysia, Monaco, Paris, Singapore, and Norway.  Hopefully something will come up, and by mid-year my wife and I will most likely be gone from here.  I’ll let you all know soon enough. 

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7 Responses to Of LNG and Royalty

  1. Tatyana says:

    Monaco and Paris, world centers of oil industry !

    Glad you posted this little bit of insight into your existence; I thought of marking your blog on my roll as “on hiatus”.

    Don’t remember if I told you: Patrick (remember Patrick of Wandering the Russian Far East, Mongolia and Turkey fame?) is now in Armenia, along with Meaghan, teaching English in a small mountain town. They sometimes upload beautiful pictures on Flickr; Meaghan’s are simply breathtaking.

    Isn’t Honorary Consulate should be [properly] spelled “Honourary”?

  2. tinou says:

    Your profile may certainly feet with Schlumberger Japan… I hear there always looking for new people..

  3. Tim Newman says:

    Monaco and Paris, world centers of oil industry !

    Not much oil there admittedly (except for that leaking from the bilges of superyachts) but there are a few big engineering houses based there. A bit like Samara, then.

    Glad you posted this little bit of insight into your existence; I thought of marking your blog on my roll as on hiatus.

    Yeah, there is a reason for that which I’ll explain later. Nothing sinister, just a change in attitude on my part.

    Dont remember if I told you: Patrick (remember Patrick of Wandering the Russian Far East, Mongolia and Turkey fame?) is now in Armenia, along with Meaghan, teaching English in a small mountain town. They sometimes upload beautiful pictures on Flickr; Meaghans are simply breathtaking.

    No, I didn’t know that. I’m glad he’s still getting about, I think it’s a crying shame his previous writings are not archived.

    Isnt Honorary Consulate should be [properly] spelled Honourary?

    I think it should. I was lazily going off what it said on the consul’s business card.

  4. Tim Newman says:

    Your profile may certainly feet with Schlumberger Japan I hear there always looking for new people..

    Thanks for the tip, but alas not much use to me. Schlumberger, in a display of stupidity impressive even for the oil industry, has a policy of not allowing people to apply for employment more than once in a 2-year period, even if for completely different positions. I applied for a job with them about 18-months ago (obviously unsuccessfully), so having tried to apply for another have been told that my second attempt has jeopardized my chances of employment with them. Screw them, then. I pray that one day I am in a position to tell Schlumberger that due to their having submitted a wholly unrelated tender 2 years ago, they have just fucked their chances of winning this new one.

  5. Jan Ammerlaan says:

    Sorry to hear about your departure. Always enjoy a lot reading your posts. Hear that Shell has recently started the development of two oil fields in the Netherlands, so what about Amsterdam heheh? Goodluck with the applications. Cheers

  6. Amanda says:

    Now you’ll have us all on tenterhooks, waiting for updates until you can post more openly.

    Good luck with the job hunting.

  7. Amanda says:

    I wish you luck with your new adventure, whatever and where ever that may be. I will definitely be keeping up with you…I love reading your stories and looking at your wonderful photos…

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