Oil and gas reserves are found in a variety of locations from deep sea wells, grasslands and forested areas, to deserts and arctic tundras. Reserves explored or produced at sea are considered "offshore" while locations on land are called "onshore". Whether you are working in the oil fields at a traditional well site or you are offshore on a "rig", the industry is regarded as particularly dangerous. This stems from several factors. The operation of heavy industrial equipment always comes with personal risk. Of course, oil is combustible and that brings its own hazards. Arguably the biggest factor in work-related injuries and fatalities is fatigue as the hours in this industry are long and unforgiving. The transportation of materials and equipment, often on back roads and untracked areas combined with fatigue can result in accidents and does every year. How is life on an oil rig? Keep reading to find out.
Depending on the distance from the coast, one can reach offshore locations either by helicopter or Offshore Supply Vessels (OSV). Traveling by chopper is the common means of transportation on a daily basis.
When traveling by air it is mandatory to have Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET) for offshore-going personnel. This training provides life saving techniques in case of emergencies. A safety briefing video is shown before boarding the helicopter.
Landing on Offshore location:
After landing, an offshore installation Helicopter Landing Officer (HLO) will guide you out of the chopper and a rig safety officer will give an introduction on the day of arrival about the life saving apparatus' on board and available escape routes.
Accommodation & Food:
Space is a big constraint in all offshore oil and gas installations so it is mandatory to share accommodations with your colleagues. Personal quarters with double or four beds is common. Each room will have its own wash room and toilet facility.
"Galley" is a nautical term for kitchen and dining area. Each installation has a self-service canteen or catering system with a wide variety of food, cooked and served four times a day. A team of cooking and serving staff are present on board to prepare meals and take care of daily needs of the working personnel. Food and supplies are delivered on a weekly basis by OSV's.
On-Off Pattern & Working hours:
Duty patterns are as follows: 14-14, 21-14, or 28-28. You have to work 14 days offshore before going home for 14 days. This pattern mainly depends on the organization in which you are employed.
Every job is different and everyone has their own responsibilities. Twelve hour days are the minimum working time with day and evening shifts available. The workload is always high and the job itself is very challenging. You should be physically and mentally fit. Contractors give a lot of importance to physical and mental condition of the crew and they make sure that the new employees can meet the challenges.
Communication & Recreation:
Communication is a very important aspect of spending time offshore. For safety reasons, the use of mobile phones is not allowed. The vast distances from shore prevent the use of traditional cellular service anyway. However, there are calling cards and internet facilities on the platforms which you can access during off-duty hours. After long hours most personnel will try to go to bed rather than look for entertainment, but there are shared entertainment areas on board.
Smoking and health care:
Smoking offshore is allowed only in designated areas but you are not allowed to carry any source of ignition. Matches for lighting cigarettes are provided in the smoking areas. Alcohol, weapons and non-prescribed drugs are completely banned on all offshore oil and gas installations.
Every rig has a medical station with a basic treatment facility. After arrival a medic will ask you to complete a form to document your health conditions.
Life on an oil rig is unique in so many ways. If you are used to being at sea or sharing living quarters, then the transition will be much easier.