This film depicts the towing of Graythorpe I (later known as Forties Alpha) as it heads to be installed in the North Sea in the BP’s Forties oilfield. The Forties Oil Field is the largest oil field in the North Sea, 110 miles east of Aberdeen. It was discovered in 1970 and first produced oil in 1975 under ownership of British Petroleum, now called BP. The film shows aerial as well as panoramic views of the oil rig and interviews on site workers. The construction for this massive project began in June of 1974 (:21). The steely frame of Graythorpe I is seen nearly completed after 18 months, 2,500 men and 20,000 tons of steel (:38). In order to reach it’s destination it would have to be towed over 250 miles (:50) and once there, it would be lodged 250 feet into the sandstone under the North Sea (:54). Traditionally this area was composed of shipbuilders who were now working on this structure and one of the workers is interviewed about his experience here (1:15). The men worked up to 300 feet from the ground (1:48). Due to the size of the project, two specially designed revolving cranes were developed (1:52). Each of these stood 400 feet high and they were the largest cranes built thus far (2:07). The flotation raft is pointed to which would take the rig into the North Sea (2:22). The man responsible for the construction of the rig is interviewed about the project (2:36). After the Graythorpe I was floated out, they were to begin the construction of the next one (2:59) and hoped to get a third and fourth in before the decades end (3:21). A computer program was designed to control the process of getting Graythorpe I out to see and upright (3:36). Ray Jenkins, whom had worked in the oil industry for 20 years, is interviewed (3:38). He compares the techniques used here as being similar to those used in the space program though had been modified and refined for civilian use (3:45). The computer program monitors each of the individual tanks and how much water is in them at all times (4:05). On June 25th, the platform is seen completed and final touches were added to the dredging operation (4:35). After moving through the channel, tug boats headed by Captain Bill Strickland would tow it out to the North Sea (4:43). He states much of the difficulty in this project lie in the multitude of intricate marine maneuvers that had to take place in a short time frame (5:16). On June 26th, millions of gallons of water were flooded into the dock (5:24). This would take about 36 hours to fill and on June 29th the steel beast beings moving forward (5:39). The tugs then take over once it has moved out to the river (5:58). From the beaches, Graythorpe I moves closely along the shoreline (6:24). The command vessel is shown with the computer center aboard (6:38). Though the North Sea is known for it’s intense storms, the weather stayed clear (6:59). It moved towards the BP’s Forties oilfield (7:10) and on July 2nd the cranes and platform arrived (7:13). On July 3rd, the radio-controlled valves were slowly opened up by the computer system (7:33). For about two and a half hours the rig takes a slow dip into the sea (7:52) and it will take another three before it is standing upright (8:30). The film begins to wrap up as they planned to have all piles in place and decks installed by the end of August, and by 1975 they anticipated the first oil would begin flowing through it (8:40).
The Forties story began in 1964 when British Petroleum (BP) was awarded U.K. North Sea exploration licence number 001. In October 1970, BP’s semi-submersible drilling rig, Sea Quest, hit commercial oil in Forties Field: 1.8 billion barrels of oil. It put the U.K. North Sea on the map as a massive source of energy and revenue.
Four fixed production platforms would be needed for the area which covered 91 square kilometers. Construction of the platforms themselves proved challenging, requiring extensive research and development as well as suitable construction sites - flat areas adjacent to deep water with a pool of nearby labour, all within 200 miles of the Forties Field. Graythorp I and II (later known as Forties Alpha and Bravo) were constructed by Laing Offshore at a disused ship repair yard at Graythorp near Hartlepool, and Highland I and II (Charlie and Delta) by Highland Fabricators (HiFab) at Nigg Bay, on the Cromarty Firth.
We encourage viewers to add comments and, especially, to provide additional information about our videos by adding a comment! See something interesting? Tell people what it is and what they can see by writing something for example: "01:00:12:00 -- President Roosevelt is seen meeting with Winston Churchill at the Quebec Conference."
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com
September 2, 2020 Subject:
A slice of my history
It was good to see this. As a 21 year old newly qualified engineer I worked on this contract on Teesside at Dock Point on the modules that were placed on the jacket being launched in this video. They were buily by Whessoe at the Dock Point yard in Middlesbrough. 45 years later and now retired I am rather happy to say its still in production.
The on thing I do recall was that the after launch party was notable for all the wrong reasons. The company laid on a free bar and the local police spent half the night rounding up a bunch of rowdy drunks. Teesside Steelworkers are not known for their moderate drinking habits :)