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The Challenges of Working Offshore

Perhaps the greatest drawback of working offshore is the time away from home. At minimum you can expect to be away for 2 weeks at a stretch and in some overseas rigs, it can continue for a month. You can’t leave early to have dinner with your wife, transport to and from the rig is astronomically high. However considering that you usually get as much time off as you work, your annual salary remunerates you for 6 months of work.

Another challenge is the working hours. Most shifts are 12 hours long and some extend to 18 hours putting tremendous strain on your physical self. The work itself is physical and manual in nature, not suited for a people preferring a sedentary lifestyle. There is no privacy as people on a rig share everything with each other and it can get tiresome to see the same faces at all times. Finally while room, board and food is provided, the quarters are cramped and the food can get monotonous.

Other Offshore Jobs

Offshore does not always refer to working on site off the coast of the mainland. Neither is drilling for oil always associated with offshore work. The term off-shoring is also referred to as the movement of processing, operations and other computer based work from more expensive locations to cheaper ones.

The final chapter in this book provides an overview of a career in Business Process Outsourcing or Process Off-shoring.

Offshore Salary and Pay Structure

Most individuals opting for a career in this industry are first attracted to the money. Offshore rig workers make a substantial amount more than onshore employees doing the same job and what’s more, they work fewer days a year. Most reputed companies pay their workers extremely enviable packages and the benefits offered are also superlative. However not everyone is paid the same across all companies.

There are a number of factors that will determine your specific pay package and it is wise to bear these in mind while assessing your offer.

Major Offshore Drilling Companies

On this web page we also covered some of the most well known and respected offshore drilling companies to help prospective rig workers decide which companies they would best like to work for.

For those who are just entering the profession, a company with a strong orientation towards training, learning and development is an ideal choice as this is where you can grow and develop your skills. For those who are experienced, a company with a strong R&D and technology development focus would be suitable.

Offshore Regions

Life on an oil rig definitely includes travel of some sort. In the book we covered some of the key regions in which drilling operations take place. Some areas are extremely popular thanks to extensive geological investigation while others are yet to fully develop their potential. The most well known drilling regions are the North Sea, The Gulf of Mexico and the Persian Gulf. Here there are a number of rigging companies each using different vessels and equipment at different specific locations to extract oil. We also covered the regions that are expected to be the next hot ticket locations in the coming years. These were West Africa, South America, the Arctic and some unexplored areas of the Gulf of Mexico. As companies vie for the rights to certain areas, one thing is for certain – the oil exploration industry is going to around for a long time.

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The Offshore Life

Before embarking on this career choice, it is wise to understand what offshore life is like and whether it is a lifestyle that you could adapt to. It involves extended time away from home in remote locations in the middle of an ocean and can put tremendous strain on you if you are not prepared for it. That said a lot of workers get addicted to this way of life for the rest of their careers. They relish the thought of 14 to 28 days of tough manual labor on board an oil rig with a bunch of like-minded folks. They then look forward to the same 14 to 28 days off with their families and enjoy the knowledge that their annual salary is for just 6 months of work. Drilling companies on their part are mindful that the rig becomes a home away from home for its crew and take great steps to make it as comfortable as possible for its inhabitants.

There are advantages and disadvantages associated with the offshore life and it is definitely not for everyone. However once you familiarize yourself with its charms and challenges, you can make an informed decision on whether it is the career choice for you.

Finding a Job on an Rig Crew

Once you have decided what role will suit you best, you can proceed to finding a job. It is a good idea to research the industry first so that you know the latest trends and potential sites. If you are a new entrant, you will have to work very hard to get a foot in the door. Most drilling companies prefer to recruit workers with previous rig experience so you will have to use a number of innovative approaches. Personal
contacts work well as does building your skills on an onshore rig. However in many cases, drill workers start off on positions like catering and housekeeping to get rig experience and then use their contacts to get a mainstream role.

When applying for a job, ensure you do it through the right channels. The Internet is a popular source but can also be risky thanks to a number of scams. Check the credentials of the agency or site that you are visiting and call the hiring company in case of any doubts.

Roles in the Offshore Drilling Industry

There are literally a variety of roles that you can choose from if you want to become part of the offshore drilling industry. Some require little or no skills while others require college degrees. Depending on your age and stage in life, personal ambition and interest, you need to decide on which role would work best for you. The below chart depicts what a rig crew essentially consists of.

Types of Drilling Vessels

Working offshore implies that you will be working on some sort of sea vessel employed in the drilling for oil. Currently there are four popular choices for this activity, namely the jack-up drill, the semi-submersible, drilling ships and platform drills.

Where the drilling operation is in shallower waters and the oil well’s potential is still not fully known, a jack-up drill is the preferred choice as it relatively stable, can be used in such conditions and is a movable non-permanent choice. In deep water conditions where a movable rig is once again required, the best option is the semi-submersible vessel which can be used to effectively extract oil in such conditions. Both the jack-up rigs and semi submersibles need to be towed to their new locations. A drillship offers the same benefits as the first two options but since it is a full-fledged ship, it can move to its new location on its own steam and motors. Finally where the oil well potential is strong and the conditions are favorable, oil companies resort to building a permanent platform in the middle of the ocean. This involves massive expenditure and will only be implemented when the return is assured.

As an oil rig worker, it is best to gain expertise in each of the vessels as you progress through your career. This will make you a desirable choice for most employers.