Bonds of affection tie Petrolimex employees

Kim Anh


05:44 PM @ Tuesday - 07 July, 2015

We were present at the central region during the final days of May – when it was going through the most severe hot weather. Although we – the film makers – are quite familiar with different weather conditions, sometimes we still felt exhausted because of the heat and hot-dry winds which blew from the neighboring Laos.

The SCTV (Saigontourist Cable Television Company Limited) film crew travel offshore to work at the Petrolimex Long Phu 10 vessel

Despite the hot spell, we were determined to shoot the most beautiful and honest sequences featuring Petrolimex staff. We understood that we would have to endure the heat for just ten days, but Petrolimex officials and workers “have to toil under the sun” all years around. Beads of sweat which were running down their face seemed to demonstrate their devotion, industriousness and full responsibility in an effort to ensure the non-stop flow of energy sources for the life.

"Human affection – a fundamental value and an invisible thread that connects me to Petrolimex"

The hot weather in the Central sometimes eased off through the stories about “human affection in the oil and gas industry” told by those who once worked and are working for Petrolimex.

Sitting under the foot of the Memorial dedicated for oil and gas workers who lost their life in a bombardment by the US forces on August 5, 1964, Mr. Nguyen Quy Dieu – a former technician at the Petrolimex Nghe An – couldn’t hide his emotions when he remembered the days he and his colleagues heroically fought against the enemy to protect the previous source of oil and gas.

Mr. Nguyen Quy Dieu (right), a former technician of the Petrolimex Nghe An) retells glorious days with the film crew of the documentary Petrolimex Chronicles

Turning his eyes towards the high and fine tanks standing firm under the sun, Mr. Nguyen Quy Dieu recalled obsessive memories of the past: “On that fatal day, August 5, 1964, the whole city was living in peace at noon when a series of bombs started rumbling. I rushed out into the street just to see the petrol depot had burst into flames. The flames were about 10 meters high, covering almost the whole Ben Thuy Petrol Depot. Then came the first clang of the fire alarm system. Quickly the militiamen, the depot guards and hundreds of the local people rushed to the scene. All understood the most important task was to move thousands of petrol tanks out of the danger area. All petrol barrels were later “rescued” except the six petrol containers in the inland warehouse which were completely destroyed by fire. The fire kept going for three days and nights. Shortly after that, the petrol depot was restored. Production and fighting activities were soon reinforced to supply fuel for the battle in the south.

As I went on to ask him: “Fighting under such a fierce condition one could probably lose his/her life. How about you? What was your motivation?

He smiled gently and replied slowly: “It was the very human affection which developed among those working in the oil and gas industry that motivated our fighting will and spirit. In those days, no one thought of danger, no one cared of their own life. We stayed with each other through thick and thin. National independence and reunification were most important. With strong fighting spirit and a profound hatred for the enemy, seeing the burning petrol depot, each of us had only one thought: We must save the petrol tanks, save the source of fuel to have sufficient fuel for the battle fields in the south.

He continued: “I have adequate reason for speaking of “the human affection among the oil and gas industry staff”. Not only in Nghe An – my hometown – did I see people care for and share with each other. When I was one of the persons that took over the Nha Be Petrol Depot after 1975, those working there also treated me as a family member. There was no discrimination between junior from senior workers. We all formed part of the Petrolimex staff, so they were willing to instruct and support me a lot. Thus, I can say for sure that “human affection” is the fundamental value and an invisible thread that ties me to Petrolimex”.

Fifty years have gone by. As we came to shoot the film Petrolimex Chronicles, the Ben Thuy Petrol Depot remains situated on the same location but looks much more spacious and solid. The quay also looks quite different from documentary images that we watched: its solid structure is rising up towards the peaceful and romantic Lam River.
Through what Mr. Nguyen Quy Dieu told about the fighting spirit in protecting the Ben Thuy Petrol Depot, I understand that the fighting spirit of the Petrolimex staff is like the wave featured in the poem Qua pha Ben Thuy (River Crossing on Ben Thuy Ferry) that Nguyen Duy composed in 1973:

Cleaving the waves – the ferry goes
Deliberately in the singing of the Lam River
People and vehicles rush to the battle field like rolling water
Billowing without a bit of hastiness

Those fell upon the fire to rescue petrol tanks, some already died, some are still alive but the memories of the day the Vinh City went up in flames were still a milestone in the fight against foreign invaders of the heroic Nghe An people.

Petrolimex staff lead a simple but intimate life

The two words "human affection” that Mr. Nguyen Quy Dieu spoke about kept clinging to my thoughts during the days I was there with the film crew. Once in a while, Mai Lan – the editor of the sixth episode of the Petrolimex Chronicles – and me, in some way, managed to weave that human affection into any question posed for Petrolimex employees to evoke their most sincere feelings during the time they work for Petrolimex.

Head of the PTS Nghe Tinh fleet transporting petrol to the neighboring Laos, Gian Tu Son, poses for a photo ahead of his departure.

And once or twice, the film crew were surprised at and moved by their responses like the story of Gian Tu Son, the head of the PTS Nghe Tinh (Petrolimex Nghe Tinh Transportation and Services JSC) fleet which transports petrol from Ben Thuy Petrol Depot to the neighboring Laos. He talked about his days on such a long journey: “I have been working this job for more than 10 years. During the long journey carrying petrol through to Laos, we – the drivers – have always exercised extreme caution and great concentration to fulfill our duty. No matter who we are, the new recruits or the senior drivers, we always admonish each other to drive with great care as the way to Laos encompasses extremely dangerous slippery slopes. Sometimes, on rainy or stormy days the roads get stuck, we stay under the vehicles sharing with each other a noodle pack or mouthfuls of fresh water. Life is such simple but I feel we are so close-knit…

If they do not care for each other through such small and simple things, I thought, they still complete their assigned tasks but, for sure, they will feel lonely and go short of the “typical qualities” of a Petrolimex employee. It was very the caring and sharing they gave each other on rainy days on the foreign land and the warmth of the journey companions that have tied them together and made them always stand side by side during their trips to Laos.

Ms. Le Thi Hai Yen (Petrol Station No. 10 Dakrong, Petrolimex Quang Tri) feels happy to attend the Festive Day to sell "Petrolimex products for people in mountainous areas"

Another moving story is from Ms. Le Thi Hai Yen, a petrol seller at the Petrol Station No. 10 (km38 National Highway 9, Krong Township, Dakrong District, Quang Tri). Yen said: “The reason that I keep staying put to work for Petrolimex for the past five years is that the Petrolimex leadership always consider the company’s employees as family members. Petrolimex Quang Tri has taken care of not only its staff through adequate preferential treatments and stable payments but also their families. For instance, on the annual International Day of Older Persons (October 1), the Petrolimex Quang Tri leaders often present my parents with some gifts. Sometimes I am too busy to remember that it is my parents who help take care of my children so I can devote time and efforts to the work. Therefore, the gifts that the Petrolimex Quang Tri leaders give my parents, though modest, have helped me fulfill the duty of a child. I feel pretty moved and grateful for that”.

Through the sharing of these personal thoughts and feelings, I understand why almost all Petrolimex employees that I asked “How long have you been working for Petrolimex?” said they have worked for the Group for at least 10 years. When job quit is posing a headache for many enterprises, I believe that one of the precious assets that Petrolimex Vietnam has is a stable, enthusiastic and devoted contingent of human resources.

No capital resources and assets are more precious and important than human resources. Should an enterprise develop and be prosperous, it must have a strong contingent of competent employees who devote themselves wholeheartedly for the benefit of the enterprise. In addition, the enterprise leaders are capable of using such human resources efficiently and treat them properly.

And through stories told by the leadership, I’m convinced that: Petrolimex Vietnam has always been and will be treasuring human resources so as such internal force continues to bring into full play their strength in the most humane and effective way!.

Petrolimex Quang Tri staff are providing goods/services to ethnic minority groups at the petrol station No. 10 (Km38 – National Highway 9 - Krong Township, Dakrong District, Quang Tri Province) during the Festive Day to sell "Petrolimex products for people in mountainous areas"

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