Oil worker’s hopes for Libya return

REUNITED: David Spikins  pictuured with wife Pamela at Newcastle Airport
REUNITED: David Spikins pictuured with wife Pamela at Newcastle Airport

AN oil refinery manager is on tenterhooks as he waits to hear if he can return to the job he loves in war-torn Libya.

Hartlepool man David Spikins, 64, was glued to the television as he watched news coverage of Libyan rebels pouring into the capital Tripoli while Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime teetered on the brink of collapse.

“They are unbelievable scenes,” said David who, six months ago, had to flee crisis-hit Libya in an epic six-day journey by coach, ferry, and plane when the uprising began – with his wife Pamela, 63, all the while waiting for news that he was safe.

Speaking today, he told the Mail: “The odds were against the rebels, but they never gave up.

“The way events have unfolded, the rebels looked like they were going to succeed, but I did not think it was going to happen as quickly as it did. Nato’s actions have certainly speeded things up.”

Now David, from the Clavering area, is hoping to go back to the country to help rebuild its hugely valuable oil industry.

He said: “That is my plan and hopefully we will get a good reception when we get there.”

The latest developments mark a dramatic change from March this year when David fled the country and said: “There were times when I feared for my life.”

David’s terrifying ordeal lasted for 11 days and began when hundreds of local Libyans fled the Amal oil refinery once news emerged of the rebellion, leaving the site open as a ripe target for looters who turned up with automatic rifles.

In dramatic scenes that followed, the looters were beaten back by locals who charged at them with iron bars.

Four more days of living on the camp, without water and power, ensued before David and his fellow British workers escaped in coaches which took them to the coastal port of Ras Lanuff.

He eventually managed to get on a ferry which took him first to Malta and then home to the safety of the UK.

In another twist, David has received reports that his job as a garage manager at the Amal oil refinery will be waiting for him if the crisis in Libya is resolved.

He explained: “We’d had little contact until recently when another one of the guys got through to one of our old bosses.

“He told my friend to put out the word that, once this is finished, he would send for us.

“That might turn out to be in another six or seven weeks. All the lads that came out of Libya with me have said they are going back.”

In the meantime, David says he has filled in his time with gardening, DIY and spending time with Pamela.