Deep sea record for Gorleston man

A BORN and bred Gorleston man has been at the centre of efforts to dig what is believed to be the deepest underwater oil well ever off the coast of India.

Mark Manning is currently on a rig in the Bay of Bengal, and was last month involved with successful attempts to plunge pipes 10,199 feet through the ocean and into the earth’s crust.

The 46-year-old joined Vetco Gray (GE Oil & Gas) 10 years ago as a field service engineer, and has the highly specialised job of ensuring the drill bit that initially digs into the earth and the pipes that guide it towards the black gold are up to scratch.

He said: “The equipment I work with is quite agricultural, but it’s just a case of giving it some TLC.

“It’s about making sure everything works as these rigs are very expensive, as are the parts – so you want to do it right first time.

“It’s the same procedure as any other dig; the only difference is the time it takes, but I’m proud that we’re world leaders in what we do.”

Before the deep well was dug on March 8, Mark spent hours carefully checking over the huge equipment and making sure seals were sufficiently lubricated and everything was in pristine condition.

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The father-of-three, who grew up on the Magdalen estate, explained that ahead of the dig neither he nor the company could find any evidence anyone else going deeper.

Previously, the closest was a depth of 10,0111ft achieved in 2003 by Chevron on the Toledo well in the Gulf of Mexico.

He added that he has pride in Great Yarmouth, saying: “It’s nice to be part of this and it’s important to recognise that in the town we have a great offshore industry

“There are still a lot of our townspeople doing this kind of job.”

During the last four years he had set around 25 wells in the Bay of Bengal, and before this spent a number of years in West Africa.

Celebrating his 25th anniversary this year with his wife Tracey, he spends 28 days on the rig before being given a break and time to head home.

“It can be a difficult life but it’s all I’ve known; so I make sure home time is quality time,” he said.

Mark, who wanted to be a car mechanic when he was a youngster, and was a Royal Marine until 1991, added: “It feels good doing what I’m doing. You never know where destiny will take you.

“And I’m enjoying my job and what I do.

“I work for a good company, in a good location, and it great working on the cutting edge.”