Special Recognition Awarded to Alan Higgins at 2018 OAAs
Alan Higgin's dedication to the energy industry is apparent to all who know him. Having started in the energy industry in 1960, Alan uses his experiences at various different levels to inspire the next generation of industry professionals. It is Alan's undeniable passion for the industry and commitment to making change that has earned him the Special Recognition Award at this year's OAAs.
In 1960, Alan joined BP Tanker Company as a Deck Apprentice and spent many years navigating around the world, with nautical tables, spherical trigonometry and his trusty sextant! By 1966, he was a 2nd Officer and his wife Nan came to sea with him for 3 years. On the same day Neil Armstrong first walked on the Moon in 1969, Alan passed all the examinations for his Masters Certificate in Glasgow. In 1970, Alan joined Chevron, sailing as Chief Officer on a VLCC, finally achieving command in 1973. Two years later, he was sent to Saudi Arabia as a Marine Superintendent, looking after the Company’s interests across the region.
After another three years, Alan was sent to work in the North Sea, as an OIM on a pre-oil Ninian Central Platform. He later witnessed ‘first oil’ on all three Ninian Platforms and spent 3 years working offshore, week on/week off, learning what large oil platforms did, before moving to Ninian House in Altens in 1981. The following year Ninian was producing 320,000 bbls a day! Increasing management roles followed until, in 1987, Alan had responsibility for the entire Ninian Field. Also from the mid-1980’s, he became a facilitator on a company-wide management training programme.
From 1989, Alan spent 5 years working in London on the Alba project, which included a small CRINE-built platform, a floating storage unit and a shuttle tanker. That same year, the tanker ‘Exxon Valdez’ spilled some 260,000 bbls of crude in Alaska and this brought a whole new slant on the industry for him. Chevron Shipping decided to join the BP-owned ‘Oil Spill Service Centre’ in Southampton and Alan became Chevron’s OSSC Director, the 6th corporate participant at the time. As membership grew, the shareholders decided OSSC should become an independent organisation. So for 3 years from 1992, Alan worked with two colleagues from BP and Conoco, to take OSSC out of BP ownership.
Finally, on 1 January 1996, Oil Spill Response Limited became a fully independent oil industry cooperative with 35 shareholders (there are now many more) and Alan became Chairman of the Company. A month later, the tanker ‘Sea Empress’ spilled more than 300,000 bbls of crude oil in Milford Haven - and the rest is history. OSRL is now the world’s leading oil spill response company.
Meanwhile by 1995, Alan was back to Aberdeen with the Alba Project in full production. Reassigned back to Ninian and unable to arrest rapidly declining production, the field was eventually sold. Sadly, at midnight on 31 January 1997, Alan pulled down the Chevron flag outside Ninian House - and went home!
He worked for OSRL until 2012, then became Chairman of the Sea Alarm Foundation in Brussels, a small environmental organisation looking after the welfare of plants, birds and animals caught up in marine oil spill disasters, and still remains involved today.
Since 2001, Alan has been Chairman of the Chevron UK Pensioners Association, seeking to improve the pensions and benefits for some 9,000 Chevron heritage pensioners in the UK, from Chevron, Texaco, Unocal, Gulf and Caltex.
He has also been an Energy Institute volunteer for some 30 years - at Schools Careers Fairs, and raising sponsorship for the NorthSound Radio Energy Schools Challenge for the last 21 years. Alan is currently the Chairman of a multi-Institute body in Inverness for the Highlands & Islands, a member of the national EI Benevolent Fund Committee in London and organises the EI Annual Dinner in Aberdeen each year.
In the late 1990’s, working with two close colleagues, Alan established ‘Education Day’ at Offshore Europe, while into the 2000’s, along with another colleague, he went on to establish ‘Energise your future’, which has been subsequently developed under the OPITO banner, to become a nationwide event.
In 2014, Alan was delighted and honoured to be appointed as a Burgess of Guild of the City of Aberdeen.
Congratulations on your Special Recognition Award, Alan - thoroughly deserved!