The global pandemic has effectively put paid to this year’s College reunions of 1970, ’80, ’90, 2000 and ’10 – and in these strange days of forced isolation, spare a thought for a member of the class of 1980, Rod Carmichael.

Late last week, Rod emailed OPA central (and attached these pics) from the Tengiz Oilfield in the central Asian nation and former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan to which he recently returned.

Long before Borat put the place on the map for all the wrong reasons, Kazakhstan - which extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains at its eastern border with China and Russia – was home to Rod.

Twenty-seven years ago, Rod now 57, fronted up to the onshore oil-processing facility for one of the biggest proven oil reserves in the world.

Then employed with the American multinational energy corporation Chevron, he committed his energies to the development of Tengiz’s first generation facilities.

“After I left, Chevron developed the second generation facilities and now I’m back helping with the development of the third generation facilities,” Rod wrote.

“Our plant jobsite is two and a half kilometres wide and two and a half kilometres long. It’s a big site and it also looks a little sparse, but it has to be that way as we have loads of massive equipment to move around and lots of huge modules to move and set.”

As of April 19, the Kazakhstani Ministry of Health has confirmed 1676 cases of COVID-19 and 17 deaths in the country.

Accordingly, Rod (pictured 40 years on from his classroom days below) anticipates that he will be on site in Kazakhstan for at least the next two months “until this damned virus blows over”, before returning to Thailand to be with his wife Noot and daughter Calla May who is now completing her school studies online.

“In the meantime, keep well, keep safe and say g’day to anyone in Melbourne who remembers me,” wrote Rod, who asked that his email be included for any old classmate or former teacher who might like to renew acquaintance.

“I’ll get back there one day . . . ”