How do you solve a labor shortage on an international project when qualified local labor isn’t available? That was the challenge Sundt encountered while working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the 1970s on a diverse work package that included construction of housing, schools, petroleum testing laboratories, maintenance shops and health clinics. A royal edict required contractors to bring their own workforce to the kingdom, but a largely American workforce would have been cost-prohibitive.
We considered five countries in which to find workers with the necessary skill sets, ultimately selecting the Philippines because most Filipinos spoke English and were accustomed to working with Americans.
The next challenges were: 1) finding a way to house the 1,500 workers, and 2) making the situation comfortable enough to entice them to stay for multiple projects.
The solution? A floating village. Approximately 1,500 craft workers were comfortably and affordably housed on two five-story-tall barges – affectionately called “da floatin’ hotels”– docked at nearby Half Moon Bay on the Arabian Gulf. The floating village was comfortable enough that workers stayed for up to 10 years.
Arabian American Oil Company Project