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Egyptian Drilling Company -suspicion

Egyptian Drilling Company (EDC) is a 50/50 joint venture between A.P.Moller-Maersk (APMM) and the Egyptian state, formally GPC or General Petroleum Company.

EDC is an oil business contractor, which owns and operates drilling rigs and platforms, offering exploratory and maintenance well drilling to oil concessionaires in Egyptian territory.

EDC had had a rough start. Neither party had much experience in dealing with a 50/50 partner and both partners felt that they alone possessed the skills and abilities necessary for success. But the 50/50 constellation forced difficult compromises and ruled out dictating terms by either party.

Just like in a marriage both parties had to learn to live with the other. The parties had certainly not reached that point when I arrived. Instead the entire athmosphere was ripe with mutual suspicion and cautiousness.

Not exactly the perfect environment for the originally intended (and ultimately achieved) fruitful and successful cooperation.

EDC - getting better

It took replacement of foreigners, who had little respect for Egyptians, as well as replacement of Egyptians, who felt that foreigners were unwelcome people usurping their country, before the athmosphere gradually improved.

It was to be a long process, but some 2-3 years later, the joint venture was functioning well and there was mutual respect.

My title was "Assistant Finance Manager" even though I handled virtually all the financial matters. The Egyptians held the right to appoint the Finance manager, but this position was at that time more of prestige position. It's probably diferent today.

EDC occupied one floor in GPC's office building in Heliopolis, a northern subsurb to Cairo.

I truly enjoyed working with the Egyptians. They in turn saw it as a huge opportunity to work in a foreign invested joint venture. They were hard working and always willing to put an extra effort whenever called upon. It was a pleasure and priviledge to see how hard they strived to learn new thins all the time. Many westerners could learn from that.

EDC - Start small

Today EDC is a major Egyptian drilling contractor, but it was certainly different back in the late 70s and early 1980s.

Our equipment constituted two offshore rigs on contract from Maersk, one old offshore platform and two small land rigs. Not a whole lot.

Once the two owners had learned to trust each other they also became more willing to invest. When I left in 1984 EDC had three offshore rigs on lease, two own brand new offshore rigs under construction, one offshore platform and four land rigs. By any measure a significant expansion in just a few years.

Apart from the head office in Heliopolis, EDC had two offshore bases, one at Ras Shukir and one at Ras Bakr. the land rigs operated deep in the desert and were self contained.

Visiting the land rigs was a risky business. Helicopters were scarce and reserved for offshore rigs so you went by car or truck from Cairo to the rig. The journey could easily take over 12 hours and once you entered the desert proper only the occasional empty oil barrels served as marker. Tire tracks were manyfold but were more misleading than helpful. Getting lost could easily become fatal!

Photos on this page

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On this page are some of my photos from my trips to the drilling rigs as also from my first excursions into Cairo and its suburbs.

The shore base at Ras Bakr was primitive and simple but served its purpose. It was akward for a foreigner to see millions of US dollars worth of euipment just lying around in Egypt's sand with little to no formal security. But nothing was ever stolen while I was in Egypt.

The gulf area had oil everywhere. On land, on shore and off shore. The smell could be rather foul in some exploratory sites.

There were still sunk vessels with just the masts sticking out of the sea not too far from the shore at many locations. These were casualties of the wars between Israel and Egypt.

Enjoy the rare photos of EDC Rig 1 operating deep in the Western Desert. The staff worked a shift of three weeks on and three off. It was tough to work in the burning desert during the day and in the bone chilling cold desert nights. The pay was good but you had to be cut out for this kind of job.

display program by Matteo Bicocchi