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Degwell Morgan  

This is Deg's account of his time spent in Little Aden from 1982 - 1983          

 

Residence at Little Aden, Republic of Yemen at 39. Corniche Friday 29 January 1982 to Monday 31 Januarv 1983

              Leaving London with Middle East Airlines, I traveled to Aden, with a stop at  Beirut, Lebanon and at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. On arrival at Aden Airport, I  was met by an Arab named Mater, a member of the personnel department  at the Refinery who informed me that I could use the Duty Free Shop to purchase anything I needed plus his gift of a bottle of whisky. It was a surprise to be able to use the shop after entry, but no surprise regarding the whisky.

We then proceeded by motor car to Al Ghadir (Little  Aden), Where I was housed  in the Company Guest House,  until I could move into the Bungalow I was allocated at 39, Corniche, a location alongside a very nice sand beach.

Fortunately, there was another BP employee at the Guest house who was temporarily employed at the Refinery, who informed me that the Aden Government was Communist, and we had East German Police, the Russian Army, Navy and Air Force. A great deal of the area was off limits  to the population but we had free access to Aden Crater, and the shore area; also  we could visit a Supermarket and Cold Store at Khormaksar, where we could use U S Dollars to make very expensive purchases.

 A gentleman named Mohamed Shooki was the Communist Party Secretary, and employed at the Crude Distillation Unit.

The following day, the B P employee who was not a golfer, was able to spend time with me touring the area, and the refinery, also explaining that all the personnel employed were Arab, with the exception of the General Manager(G M), the Chief Engineer(CE), the Power Plant Manager(PM) the Marine Superintendent (MS) and the   Inspection Engineer(IE)  all seconded B P personnel.

 I met the G M, Gwinfi  Jones on Monday 1st February, who informed me that the P M was overdue for 8 weeks leave, and did I feel confident to take over his duties immediately. Having had experience in the engineering and operation of a modern computer controlled 30 MW Steam Generation Power Plant in Alaska U S A, I had no hesitation in accepting.

 This period was a very busy time for me, as there were a number of serious engineering problems to be overcome, with a lack of time and finance. However the Senior Staff and employees were very co operative, also with the aid of the I E, we made good progress. At this time the plant was 28 years old, and the frequency of Boiler inspections had increased to 12 months. Added to this was a failure of the Instrument Air Unit, which required a lengthy shut down for engineering work, and as all the instruments in the refinery were of an obsolete pneumatic design, Instrument  Maintenance Department were overloaded with work.   The standard of housekeeping was appalling, and we made excellent progress in this area especially with the Toilets.

 An amusing personnel problem occurred when a very worried Operation Manager reported that the afternoon shift had not reported for work. It transpired that they had all gone to a football match without requesting leave of absence. He assured me that the morning shift were still at work. I assured him that  the unit would not be shut down and I want himself, together with all available skilled day working personnel, together with the four Training Instructors, and myself to relieve man for man those at work and I wish to meet the delinquent afternoon shift together with the morning shift on the following day. At the meeting, I explained that the personnel that had been inconvenienced were entitled to an apology, and of course the time worked had to be repaid by each individual. Also, there was no need to involve the Party Secretary, as I was sure he already knew, and like myself we were positive it would never happen again.

 

Little Aden Golf Club

At the end of February, I was informed by the GM that the departure of the Marine Superintendent, who acted as the Matches & Handicap Secretary, would relinquish this duty, and I would be responsible for this, together with the duty of Course Manager. The golf course at this time was an 18 hole all natural sand layout, with oiled browns, and cleverly located bunkers. It was in excellent condition and the fairways kept very firm with salt water spray, and rolled with a heavy roller. During competitions, there was no preferred lie on the browns, and after finishing the putting the players pulled a light mat over the impressions left by the soft shoes.

 

  

A view of 18 . Green and 1st Tee Box on a typical competition day.

The Club at the time was very active, the members   being drawn from BP employees and wives, Hospital Staff, Embassy Staff and wives, Members of various Construction Companies, the Crown Agents and most importantly, Members of a Japanese Fishing Company.

This allowed us to play the Mixed Saturday Competition with 40 to 50 competitors each week alternating between Medal, Stableford, Bogey and Bisque Bogey. We also played an annual competition using Putter only. Added to these was an annual Eclectic Competition also Two Ball Match Play Competitions, which were played on weekdays at the convenience of the members.

Our Trophy Competitions were,    

1) Anniversary Cup                             Winner 1981 Y Tomita

2) Allinson Trophy                              Winner 1981 H Ohtake

3) Little Aden Open                           Winner 1981 H Murukami

4) Summer Championship               Winner 1981 M T Mckernan

5) Jebel Trophy                                  Winner 1980 W D Cato

6) Jebel Trophy                                  Winner 1981 D Haughton

We also commissioned Individual Tankards, decorated with a Desert Fox for presentation to the members. Many social events were held at the Golf Club, including Horse Racing, Dances, Barbecues, and one special event during January 1983.a splendid fresh fish Barbeque with a wonderful side table, hosted by the Japanese, to express their gratitude.

 

   

Ladies Day at the Golf Club                    G M's lady in green at the GC

 Refinery  Hospital

            Hospital was still very active and efficient, the buildings in very good condition in spite of the Termites in the locality. All the Doctors originated from India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka   while the Dentist, John Turnell was British, dentist John did not play golf but his wife Cynthia was an active player. Only one of the Indian doctors Played golf.

The nursing staff were Indian with the exception of the Operating Theatre Sister, the Midwifery Sister, and the Matron, Kathy McDermott, who were British. All the personnel employed at the Hospital were directly employed by the Aden Government.

The major source of patients were drawn from the refinery  employees their families, and government sponsored people.

Below are shown a picture of a Sunday lunch party, given by the nurses, to welcome the Jesuit Priest who was with us when our regular priest was away at Rome. Also, the Ambassador presided at the l1th, November 1982 service at the Military Cemetery.which was located in the restricted  Russian Army Zone. Special permission was granted for our visit.

 

    

  From left Deg, Nurses, Priest, Nurses, Matron        Nurses, Matron, Lena at Cemetery

 

Refinery, Storage Tanks and Jetty's   

Considering the age of the buildings, and the equipment also the shortage of finance to carry out improvement projects, everything was in fairly good condition. All the concrete works at both the refinery area and jetty's showed little sign of degradation, and tests I undertook by drilling samples, with analysis undertaken in London, indicated very satisfactory results.

A very intensive repair programme was undertaken on the Crude Oil Storage Tanks, to remove the corroded seasons of the tank walls, replacing with new rolled sections. This kept the workshops, and the Inspector very busy with the quality control.

Finally, the GM organised an extended shut down of the power station and the refinery, so that we could correctively engineer the instrument air supply system and produce good clean air. At the same time, the instrument department reduced the backlog of repairs to all the instrumentation, and return to a sensible routine programme.

BP Personnel from March 1982 to February 1983

Gwynfi Jones, General Manager

Tony Howell, Chief Engineer

Mike Baddeley, Power Plant Manager

Jon Taylor, Marine Superintendent

Deg Morgan, Projects Engineer and Acting Refinery Maintenance Engineer.

Inspection Engineer (I did not make a record of his name)

Shopping

There was a small collection of fishermen and their families, living on the Beach Area to the East of the refinery housing area and they had to deliver all their catch to the government market. However, one of their members did illegally sell fresh fish to the bungalows on the Corniche.

In addition, there was an outdoor market at the village of Al Ghadir, where one had to join a line of local ladies at 6 am  to obtain fresh fruit and vegetables, paid for with local currency.

At Maalla, on the highway to Aden, was located a Supermarket, with a Cold Store. We were allowed to purchase at this Store, providing we paid with a US Dollar cheque. The only people allowed to use local currency were government employees, with a permit. The Cold Store suffered many electrical power outages so the food would defrost and freeze to the point where one was eating bulk and little amount of vitamins. I found this quite useful to control my weight.

When a person returned to the U K on leave, he would collect dollar cheques from the members of the golf club, in order to place an order for new supplies of liquor, to be despatched to the refinery for use by the golf club only. Each member would be recompensed with local currency from the golf club account, but it did impose difficulty in using this currency, as there was little to purchase, outside the club itself.  Also, we would purchase presentation tankards by the same method from J Taylor & Co, 67 Clerkenwell Road,  London EC1R 5BH.

We visited the market at Sheik Othman, and Aden Crater, but found little that was worth purchasing. We also visited the Embassy at Khormaksar, as party guests.

Time to Leave Aden

On Tuesday 31 August, 1982, the GM announced that the BP contract with the government was being terminated, and all personnel would return to U K at the end of February 1983.

Finally, the Managing Director of the refinery Faisal Bin Shamlan hosted a banquet at the BP Bureika Club during December, and presented farewell gifts.

            Both my wife Lena and I enjoyed our experiences at Aden and prepared us very well for the next part of our life in Saudi Arabia at Al Jubail. My son, who was at school in the U K, made two visits, and enjoyed the experience, due entirely to the kindness of the local population, both of his age group, and the adults I knew at the refinery.

 At the time we left, the Crude Oil was being imported from Libya, and all products, with the exception of the Gas, was the property of Libya and the Gas was marketed by the Republic of Yemen.

 

Lena and Deg with Staff

MD presenting farewell gifts to Lena and Deg

Lena & Deg with Gifts

Lena & Deg with Accountant

Deg chairing Senior Staff, Morning Meeting

GM at right background, Party at BP Club

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Lena & Annie at Golf Club

BP Members with BP Kids

BP Staff Members of the Golf Course

Party time at Matron's House

Party time at Matron's House

Little Aden, Lena on the Corniche

Shopping Sheikh Othman

 

Deg Morgan         Updated Thursday, 14 December 2006

 

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