Barb O’Rielly and Matt George had their first date on Valentine’s Day 2008 — they saw Rambo. In a scene when the film’s star expertly engineers a perfect propeller blade out of a piece of rebar with his bare hands, they both laughed, and, in that moment, knew they were made for each other. Fast forward to today and Barb and Matt are married and working on the same oil and gas project.
As a project engineering supervisor with the Hibernia project, Barb O’Rielly is fully involved in the day to day operations offshore, so she often knows what her husband, Matt George, a production maintenance mechanic on the Hibernia platform, is working on.
“For the most part I understand what all of our daily operations are, and I get to see what he’s working on and have a conversation with him about it when he gets off shift… that keeps us connected probably more so than other couples because I get all the insider knowledge.”
Occasionally, Barb’s onshore role involved offshore travel to Hibernia and on those trips Barb and Matt would often meet for dinner in the galley between shifts.
“I always loved traveling offshore because you’re in the thick of things and you can see firsthand what’s going on out there. It’s a different lifestyle and a different pace than working in the office,” says Barb.
The arrival of their son Jacob a couple years ago brought a new challenge for the couple – balancing their unique work life with family life.
“It was a lot different before we had Jacob,” says Barb. “Matt would go away for three weeks at a time and on his time off, we traveled lots and had nice dinners and had time to ourselves. It’s a different dynamic when you have a family. I think that the things you miss are more palpable when you have a child growing up, and you are away for three weeks at a time. All that said, we’ve adapted and are in a great place as a family.”
Both Barb and Matt credit technological advancements for improving their ability to communicate, despite the distance between them when Matt is offshore. When Matt first began working offshore in 2011, he had to line up to take his turn on the satellite phone. Today’s fibre optic connections make communication a lot easier.