A memory of a friend and colleague

Ed Domeij

I guess it's not so much stories as who I saw Ed to be. He was a drilling foreman working for a German oil company, RWEdea. He and I worked on the same wellsite team in Libya from May of 2007 until March 2008. It was on my trip back to join up with him on May 28 2008 that I heard the news of his passing, while in Frankfurt airport.

I met Ed when he came to relieve the German drilling foreman, Heinrich "Bobby" Klaas, somewhere in May of 2007. He seemed friendly enough.

It wasn't long before I saw Ed to be a very kind-hearted fellow with seemingly boundless energy, even when out in the scorching sun of the Libyan desert at noonday. I also found out that he did suffer from ailments common to men his age (56 at the time); high blood pressure & Cholesteral. He would sometimes feel absolutely crappy because of the meds he took, but it didn't seem to phase his way of treating people.

Unlike so many expats who come to the Middle East to work, Ed treated the locals differently...with respect and good humor. Instead of ordering them around, he got them to work for him by leading the charge...getting his hands dirty. By doing this, he always had many hands wanting to help and learn.

When we moved to a new rig in late 2007, he befriended a local named Ahmed (seen below in the orange coveralls, immediately in front of Ed, in his signature white t-shirt)

Rig crew at the sacrificial lamb ceremony prior to spudding the well. Ed passed away days later.

Ahmed and Ed knew hardly a word of each other's language, but Ahmed would bend double to be of assistance to Ed. He was a hard worker.

When Ed passed away, he apparently had been at supper the evening before, complaining of feeling poorly. This wasn't necessarily out of the ordinary for Ed, in private moments he would complain of feeling crappy. Again, he never projected his own ill feelings on anyone. After supper, according to my colleague Mike Watt (whom I was to relieve shortly) Ed walked briskly back to the rig camp (his usual means of walking) from the dining hall, and said he was going to bed early because he felt crappy.

That was the last he was seen, until he was late relieving the night man the next morning. Tom Couturier, another Albertan, was the night man. At some point, he and Mike Watt went to wake Ed, and when there was no response, they entered his cabin to find him lifeless, and from what I understand, with a serenely peaceful facial expression. In other words, he died peacefully in his sleep.

Ed was widely loved. Especially by the Libyans. But that was also true of his expat colleagues. It was hard not to like him. He always had a great game face. I found it easy to be a geologist around him; something not always easy to do with drilling foreman. Ed was different. He was always very positive. And almost impossibly kind.

When headed out into the desert to relieve Mike Watt, I went by road some 1100 Km from Tripoli to the wellsite. I had time to think. I hadn't yet grieved, but I knew it was coming. I had to get to the desert and see. When the road team arrived in the town of Zellah, deep in the desert, we met the rig driver, Abdullah Mohamed, at the town square.

That was when the grieving began.

On look at Abdullah's face said it all, and we embraced and cried. Not much was said, we knew then, the extent of our shared loss of a friend. Our trip along the Zellah-Maradah highway went in silence.

When we got to the rig, it was as if the spirit had been torn from that wellsite. Long faces everywhere. I looked for Ahmed. It wasn't long before he emerged. When he saw me his face became soaked with tears. I went to him and held his hand. All he could do was stand and say: "Ed...good...sadeek" over and over, while squeezing my hand. Sadeek means friend in Arabic.

There was little I could do except accept the loss. At some point nearly every local worker approached me to hold my hand and express the emotional content of their loss while acknowledging mine.

What happened after Ed passed was an epic tale of loss to his wife (to whom I have never spoken). His body took forever to return to Canada. RWEdea was very closed about what was going on, and I lost track of the trail from that point onward. It must have been terrible or the family.

Ed Domeij was my friend and colleague. To this day I miss him. I wonder what things may have been like if he had survived to work some more in the sands of time. He set an example for workplace standards like nobody I have ever known except my boss for many years, Bob Dick. The two of them would have gotten on famously. I'll always have a fond memory of the man as he strode around the wellsite, gloves on, white t-shirt visible no matter where he was. Unmistakable.

As Ed Domeij will be remembered by many, always forging ahead...here on the pipe racks in July of 2007.