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Top Offshore Drilling Companies

A large part of your success and future in the offshore drilling industry depends on the company with which you work. There are a large number of drilling companies in the world but some stand out as compared to others with respect to their work practices, experience, technology and sheer size. Opinions differ on whether it is best to start with a small company where theoretically you can learn more or with a large well established company where you are sure your training and future is secure. As you ponder over this decision, here are some of the most respected and top performing offshore drilling companies in the industry.

Types of Outsourcing Companies

In the outsourcing industry there are predominantly two types of companies. One is the captive institution, which is a subsidiary of an international business and the other is a third party vendor. Captive chains are usually set up for quality control purposes and in some cases for data protection. HSBC, a leading global bank has a strong captive outsourcing presence via its subsidiary HSBC Global Resourcing, employing close to 40,000 people all over the world.

A number of companies want to outsource but do not want to invest in their own captive subsidiary overseas. In such cases they work with a third party vendor. Accenture, a world renowned consulting company is an excellent example of a third party outsourcing company. Such enterprises offer a range of services from call center to payroll processing to telesales and so on, depending on the needs of the client.

Work is always a little more competitive in a third party company rather than a captive BPO. However the learning potential is exponentially higher since you get the chance to work with different clients and processes. On the flipside, job security is
better in a captive BPO but there is a tendency to get stagnant in your role since the client is always the same.

Catering Roles

On an oil rig, good food ensures that staff are well fed, nourished and able to take on the challenges of the day. When the food is tasty and well prepared it is also a motivating factor for the crew. That’s why many oil companies today take great pains to ensure that the catering function is well structured and running smoothly. If you have an interest in catering and would like the added adventure of working on an oil rig, this could be the career for you. It can also be inlet to generate some oil rig experience if you’re hoping to get into a mainstream function. Some of the common catering roles on a rig are:

  • Camp Boss-Bears are the team overseeing the catering services. They will be responsible for the kitchen crew, the service team and inventory and supply of food. General salary for this level is about $ 45000 annually.
  • Head Cook or Head Chef as the name suggests is the lead chef in the kitchen. He decides the menu, orders the food and oversees his kitchen staff. When faced with any concerns he talks to the Camp Boss. Head chefs make about $ 45000 annually.
  • Steward or Stewardess takes care of helping out in the kitchen, serving and cleaning the eating area. They may also be responsible for cleaning the workers’ rooms. Salaries at this level are about $30,000 annually.
  • Bakers or Night Chefs are the team that take care of all the baking – bread or otherwise – for the crew. It is not cost-effective to order fresh bread from the mainland so it is usually baked onboard in the night by this team. This role is considered quite essential for the rig and these workers make about $45000 annually. They are also responsible for feeding the night shift teams.

Approaches for New Entrants

Unfortunately the easiest way to get an offshore job is to have had a previous offshore job. It is an industry where references and previous experience play a vital role in securing a position so if you have never served on an oil rig in some capacity; it’s an uphill task. The good news is that there are alternative approaches and here are some suggestions:

Use your Contacts

The most successful approach is to use your connections to anyone who has oil rig experience to secure a job. Oil companies prefer recruiting people they know as it protects them against the risks of an unknown resource. This is particularly true when the industry is going through a slack period and is wary about who they recruit. Secondly using internal referrals are a cheaper recruitment alternative as compared to headhunters and online job portals. Finally it is a motivational tool for existing staff as they get a chance to work with people they know.

Start at the Bottom and Work your Way Up

A number of offshore workers began their careers at the entry-level position and worked their way up. They started as roustabouts who are essentially the offshore version of laborer onshore. However roustabouts usually have relevant and fairly technical skills like slinging, which can be learnt on the job but also in schools focusing on this area. Most companies welcome new entrants as green hands or maintenance roustabouts. This is a good start if you are ready to start on the lowest rung of the ladder.

Using your Trade

If you have a specific trade, which you believe is relevant to the industry like an electrician, you can use this to get in. However it is not very common to get a job entirely relying on this experience. In most cases you would still need to be backed up by strong references or have previous experience on a rig. It is far more convenient for an oil rig company to employ an electrician with past experience on a rig than someone who has never done this kind of work before.

Use a Supporting Role to Get a Foot in

Another option is to get a job in a supporting role totally unrelated to the actual drilling process such as a catering assistant or housekeeping staff. This way you get to build your contacts within a specific rig or ship and use this later to try to get the job of your choice. You will still have to start at the entry level but you would now carry a couple of references as well as show that you are accustomed to life offshore and are committed to the career choice.

Obtain a Relevant Certification

Your chances of getting an offshore job improve exponentially if you obtain some sort of certification like the Basic Offshore Survival & Firefighting course, which is essential for jobs based out of certain countries like the UK. Also if you are a graduate, employers are friendlier. You would probably have to also produce a medical fitness certificate and a clean drug test, both at your own cost.

Summing Up

The key to a lucrative career in this industry is learning. As long as your learning curve continues to be a sharp upward slope, you will grow in your role. All the companies described in this chapter provide excellent career development opportunities. So write your CV well and ensure you clinch the job. However while following up on prospective offers, beware that a number of recruitment related scams have emerged in which unsolicited offers of employment were made to individuals with forged documents. Typically following such offers, the candidates were asked to pay a sum of money towards visas, processing fees and other charges. None of these drilling companies make unsolicited offers, nor will they expect any payment from employees before or during employment.


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.

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Summing Up

The offshore drilling industry has a great many roles and if you are someone inclined towards blue-collar manual labor, it can present you with an excellent opportunity to make good money doing what you love. Entry-level positions are aplenty and there is an ever-growing demand for eager young men and women in the industry. It is a life of adventure and excitement, one that many engineering and geology graduates choose to pursue in an attempt to live an outdoor life while at the same time using their education qualifications. So now that you are aware of all the different areas in which you can find your niche, the next step is to learn the best ways of finding a job.


Future of Offshore Outsourcing

In a recent survey on the outcome of outsourcing, 80% of the respondents claimed that outsourcing had improved their competitive advantage in their market place. A further 87% said that their internal processes had improved since they began outsourcing and finally 77% said that their costs had substantially dropped since they moved work offshore. All this reveals on simple truth. Offshore outsourcing is here to stay. The question is where will it be.

Originally when offshore outsourcing began, India and China were the ideal destinations – India because of its large population of English speaking people and China for their computer skills. Both nations enjoyed a substantially lower labor cost than the leading developed nations. However over time, while the skills in both countries have continued to develop and strengthen, labor cost has increased. Many have said that it is only a matter of time before the cost arbitrage that got outsourcing started in the first place will cease to exist as normalization occurs.

That doesn’t mean that outsourcing will stop. It just means that newer cheaper locations will be used. From an employment perspective, if you are willing to travel then this career could be a long and lucrative one. Any company choosing to move their work overseas would be thrilled if staff members wanted to move with the process. Consequently, don’t assume that if outsourcing leaves the country in which you are residing, you will lose out on your career. You will be encouraged if not enticed into traveling with the process, a move that is usually beneficial for all involved.

However this is a long way off. Current projections show that India, a country, which currently employs 800,000 outsourcing employees, will increase this figure to 2 million jobs over the next five years. Things are certain to get better before they get worse, so this is the time to jump on the bandwagon and build your experience.

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.