We are visiting Bert Vaandrager at his home. And for a good reason too: he has completed 25 years of uninterrupted employment at Atlas Professionals; which is quite an achievement. We have surprised him with flowers, a cake and an attractive anniversary gratuity that will have made his day! And it is a beautiful day to boot.
But rain or shine, anniversary or not, Bert remains the same down to earth man he always has been. On being asked how it feels to celebrate this anniversary he says: "It's no different from being with the company for one year, you just get on with your work. Would I have wanted it any different? I don't think so, I just don't know any better. How long I will carry on for? As I am not psychic I can only say: as long as is necessary and depending on Atlas and Shell. I am doing OK at Atlas Professionals. It is an employee-friendly organisation with short chains of command, resulting in correct and speedy solutions for any problems that might occur. Agreements stand, whoever or whatever is involved: issues are resolved. Of course, there is always room for improvement but on the whole these are small issues."
Even though Bert has worked for the same employer for all these years, he has had a number of different jobs in different companies over the years. Currently, he is working for Shell. "I have been employed as a senior operator/rotary equipment - both on and offshore - since the year 2000. Prior to 2000 I worked for a number of different oil companies, both in drilling and in production, in a large variety of positions. I am involved in the optimisation of the installation's availability and the safe and efficient production of hydrocarbons, according to planning and demand."
"In addition I contribute to the improvement of the availability of the individual components, by means of sound preparation and execution of the various activities. I also provide an active contribution to the planning by means of a one-year plan, a 90-day plan and shut down meetings. These require an up-to-date list of any and (delete) all outstanding work for maintenance and repairs, integrity, inspections, modifications, issues pending on audits and a punch list relating to projects. All in all, there is a lot involved in operating a platform!"
"The best part for me was the time spent on working the pipe lines in the Groningerveld, which I told you all about last time. This work was so multifaceted, covering repairs and maintenance but also new construction. Nowadays, everything is much more controlled and structured compared to my early days in the industry. I started in the cowboy era in drilling, where in the 1970's serious accidents were a regular occurrence. Matters have changed in that respect, thanks to the many safety regulations, and a good job too..."