Latitude: 27° 46 13, longitude 48° 52 52. Sunlight winks and dances on the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf, and the already-hot morning air – well on the way to the day’s high of 43°C – carries the sharp tang of salt as the helicopter delivers me to the dive-spot here at the port of Tanajib, 150 miles north of Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
I’m not on holiday – though every day’s an adventure. I’m a diver in the Underwater Inspection and Repair Unit (UIRU) of Saudi Aramco’s Marine Department.
The department has a fleet of vessels that support the exploration, production and transportation of oil, in and around the company’s concession areas.
Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, we work from a number of the kingdom’s ports.
From subsea pipelines to rigs, platforms and vessels, the divers perform a wide range of duties including welding and inspection. The UIRU divers are on standby 24/7.
My job is to ensure the integrity of Aramco’s offshore subsea/underwater assets, including barges, ships, platforms, wells, rigs and subsea pipelines, by conducting inspections and any necessary maintenance and repairs, such as welding – and even offshore construction work.
This job serves two passions for me. First, it meets my need for something bigger than myself. In some small way, what I do touches someone else along the spectrum of human experience.
So whether our energy finds its outcome in the fuel that gets you where you want to go, in the plastics that make your car safer, or even the coating on a medicine that makes you well – I’m glad to have a hand in it.
My other passion is the sea, and not just for the spectacular coral reefs and colourful marine life beneath the waves.
I work in deep water. It is at once a vast frontier that is completely inhospitable to humans, and a global web of the intricate, vital eco-systems on which all life on Earth depends.
It’s a tough, fulfilling and exciting job, and I’m lucky to be able to do what I love.