Menu Close

What is a Roustabout?

What is a Roustabout

 A Roustabout is a laborer on an oil rig.

The word Roustabout comes from the old shipping crews where it was used for the deckhand or a wharf worker. This term gradually entered the oil industry as an oil field worker who can do a variety of jobs in and around the oil rig in the oil fields.

Oil roustabout refers to a worker who maintains all things in the oil field. Roustabouts working in oil fields typically perform various jobs requiring little training. Drillers start off as roustabouts until they gain enough hands-on experience to move up to a roughneck or floor-hand position, then to driller and rig supervisor. 

An oil roustabout has no limits in the oil industry and can, and will do any and all oil field work, including roughneck drilling, oil well completion and well service, and even chemical work. An oil field roustabout will also do all things that an oil field pumper would have to do.

However, they frequently turn out to be long-term employees and take on more difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs as they gain experience. Most go on to at least become “roughnecks” if they work for the rig company for more than a few months.The Roustabout position is responsible for supporting the oil and gas operations.

The position is diverse and may vary on a daily basis. The Roustabout works with equipment he is qualified to operate such as backhoe, forklift, trencher, trucks and trailers, water trucks, picker truck, vacuum truck, and so forth.

Duties include but are not limited to tank installation and repairs, dig pits and lines, general cleanup, install motors on equipment, set well equipment at well locations which includes cement pads and pumping units.

He may also be responsible for tie-down of pumping units and installing counterweights for balancing pumping units, haul pipe and rods, install and repair pipelines, general yard maintenance of ground and buildings, haul gravel for tank battery location and road upkeep, clean up oil spills. Normally he should be proficient with all tools including air and electrically operated equipment.

Working conditions of Roustabouts are tough. He would typically live and work on a rig or platform for two or three weeks, followed by two or three weeks’ rest period. Normally he would work on a 12-hour shift on a 24-hour shift rotation basis.

Roustabouts need to wear protective clothing, industrial shoes, ear protectors and any other protective clothing or gear required for the job.

Living facilities can include living accommodation, canteens and recreation areas. Alcohol and smoking are banned. The job can be physically demanding, working in all types of weather conditions and at possibly working at heights.

Roustabouts who desire to move up to genuine crew positions will have ample opportunity. The key is to demonstrate an incredible work ethic, follow instructions, and learn as much as possible about how the rig operates.

After roughnecks/roustabouts understand how the rig operates and demonstrates their work ethic, they may be promoted to other positions in the crew.

Once an individual starts his journey towards the management positions wages take significant leaps and employer benefit options become part of the encouraging package. Many of these employees have the opportunity to travel the world using their skills and become important assets to a company’s growth in a highly competitive environment.