Deep Driller

Bookshelf: Deep Driller

Deep Driller – Henry F. Merritt

Deep Driller
Deep Driller

I started reading this book by accident – it’s actually a novel, which I didn’t realise, and I’m very picky about my fiction reading. The author has had a long career in oil exploration around the world, and this is his first effort.

The book concerns (and is set on) a giant drilling platform in the North Sea off Scotland, called Deep Driller. A terrorist plot by a group of Scottish separatists threatens the rig with destruction. As the action takes place in the 1970’s, the crew on board must rely on helicopter couriers, telex and radio to communicate with the mainland. A threatening storm complicates matters further.

For a book of this length (about 150 pages) the cast of characters is large, and I found it hard to keep track of who each of them was as a result of jerky transitions from one viewpoint to another. Merritt builds up the tension quite nicely, but the book ends very suddenly and left me feeling that much more could have been done with the original plot idea. Hammond Innes would have a field day developing the story line a bit more and for several hundred more pages. Parts of the dialogue were tiresome to read as the author insists on reproducing in print the accent of every multinational crew member.

Despite what I felt were flaws in pacing and plot development, the insights I received into the oil exploration business were intriguing. I did enjoy the descriptions of life on board the drilling platform – something the author is very familiar with and which has fascinated me since I was a child. It is in these sections, describing the process of drilling a well, or the layout of the drilling platform, that Merritt really comes into his own. I hope that he makes future efforts to write on these subjects, as there is an air of mystery surrounding this most lucrative and essential economic activity that has ties to geology, oceanography, and a host of other specialist areas. This book also equipped me to understand the Deepwater Horizon oil spill a lot better from a technical point of view.

Buy the book here if you are in South Africa and here if you’re not. If you want to read it on your Kindle, go here.

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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