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New Frontiers of Oil Exploration

Oil will continue to be the primary source of energy until 2035. Despite all efforts to replace it with more fuel-efficient approaches and alternative fuels, demand for oil is still expected to grow by 18% over the next 25 years. That said, the older oil fields are depleting and there is a growing need to explore new frontiers. Most of those that have been discovered are under the sea. In addition the quantum of oil produced from under the sea is substantially more that the amount that gets generated from onshore rigs. While onshore produces 10 barrels a day, offshore rigs produce 1000s of barrels a day. All this makes offshore drilling an extremely lucrative industry with excellent career prospects. Here are some of the newer frontiers that are quickly gaining importance in today’s world.

What to Bring Offshore

While drilling companies insist that all you need on board are your personal hygiene items, here are a few suggestions on what might come in handy while on board.

  • Firstly get 2 or three current newspapers. You rarely get a daily paper on board and you will find this a hot commodity amongst your crewmembers. If you keep one for your boss, you will be set for life.
  • Carrying some work clothes that you can wear under your boiler suit is a good idea. These garments will be washed everyday by the rig’s housekeeping team and will keep you comfortable during your long hours of work.
  • If you are a reader, then it’s a good idea to bring a few books, magazines and other items to keep busy during your off periods. However most rigs do have a good library as well if you want to rely on the items on board.
  • It is mandatory to carry your passport as well as a copy of your latest medical fitness certificate and offshore survival certificate.
  • A pair of trainers or flip-flops come in handy during off-shift periods as these is the chosen footwear for most rig workers.
  • You may also carry a few pre-paid phone cards so that you can call home as and when you need, however it is wise to check the policy on board your rig before doing so.

Summing Up

Most offshore drilling workers choose this industry because of the salary and benefits it offers. It is a surefire way to get an income boost compared to what you would earn in a similar role onshore. However apart from salary, there are other factors that make a job sustainable and it is important to give each of these equal value before embarking on this career choice. Some of the other topics covered in this book should help you in your decision.


Geological Surveys Are a Part of The Off Shore Job of Drilling

A Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit

Image via Wikipedia

Offshore jobs can be of many kinds. The one that involves offshore drilling of oil and natural gas is nothing short of a marvel in the line of construction engineering. Till a long time back, the rigging of oil was not a well known art.

The Chinese made rigs made out of bamboos to extract oil and natural gas and used it for cooking and lighting. The place where a large oil reserve is found is called a “Trap” and looking for one is an expensive proposition. There is no way to ascertain in advance where oil can be found and there is no assured method to locate the rig.

The search for traps yields nothing most of the times however, if there is one found, more often than not, the one under the sea or ocean has a higher potential of being a large reserve. The “traps” which seem to be potential reserves are found basis the seismic activity in the region and yet there is no way to ascertain whether there is oil until the place is actually penetrated. This is why the offshore jobs have got geologists working on them to allow the best use of the data available.

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Offshore drilling ban could be a blow

President Barack Obama’s announcement Thursday that work at 33 deepwater drilling operations would be suspended immediately was like sealing the region’s economic death from the ongoing oil plume gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. This affects many offshore jobs.

Sixteen companies have operations that will be affected by the six-month shutdown, including Shell, Chevron, BP, Marathon, Eni, Petrobras, Hess and LLOG Exploration, a Metairie-based division of Hess.

After oil prices crashed in 1999, deepwater drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico didn’t really get going again until 2004.

Source: Nola.

Origination of Outsourcing

In an effort to drive down costs, businesses began analyzing the areas that largest contributed to their expenses. Labor cost turned out to be substantial thanks in large part to the prevailing trends and government regulations in developed countries. It emerged that the developing nations like India, Sri Lanka, Philippines and China enjoyed a lower cost of living and consequently lower labor cost. Fortunately these nations also had a strong group of workers who had computer skills, English language skills and excellent work ethic. At the same time, advances in telecommunications and the Internet took place. Suddenly transmitting data was remarkably simply and cheap.

The combination was irresistible. Quality staff could be recruited for a fraction of the cost and customers located in the US could be serviced from India. Pretty soon a number of businesses having high dependence on their labor force began the process of offshore outsourcing. Today it is a well-established industry with a number of players in the fray ranging from large captive enterprises to extremely competitive third party vendors.

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.

Semi Submersible Drilling Rig

Semi submersibles are used by large drilling companies to assess the viability of a location in deeper waters since unlike a jack-up rig; it is able to float on the water. Very often, this vessel is used to conduct exploratory and extracting functions and if the area turns out to have a substantial amount of oil, a drilling platform will be built.

A semi submersible is also called a floater. It consists of a barge or ship with 6 to 8 cylindrical legs beneath the hull. The drilling set up is located on top of the vessel. At the base of the legs, pontoons and ballast tanks exist to help position and move the barge as the need arises. When the vessel has to be positioned, the ballast tanks and pontoons are filled with water to lower the vessel to the appropriate depth. Then using dynamic positioning, anchors are lowered to keep the vessel in place for drilling operation. Both the anchors and the ballast tanks play a vital role in keeping the vessel stable, which is essential for smooth and effective drilling operations.

When the floater has to be moved, the water is emptied from the ballast tanks and pontoons, the anchors are raised again using dynamic positioning and the vessel is towed to its new location. Some of the more sophisticated semi submersibles are even able to move by themselves with the help of thrusters. When the new location is reached, once again the process begins to effectively position the rig.

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Rig Safety Man or Medic

This position has become relevant over the last 10 years as rig safety came to the forefront. Many companies preferred to have a trained and experienced medical professional on board the rig to assist with any emergencies. This individual would also have a role to play with respect to rig safety. To become a rig medic, you need prior medical training and experience.