18 Sep Surviving life on the rigs: a few things to keep in mind
In the world which we find ourselves, many careers are stagnant or declining. If you are in one of them, your search for greener pastures may lead you to consider a career in oil and gas.
Many start out on the rigs – with a low barrier to entry (many positions only require safety tickets and a willingness to work hard) and annual wages higher than many professional salaries, it’s easy to see why. However, there are a number of things all new applicants need to know before committing themselves to this tough profession – read about them below.
The terrain in the backcountry can be unforgiving
Oil and gas extraction is conducted outdoors. This means days spent working under the blazing sun or in the freezing cold.
There’s more to it than that, though – most drill pads are deep in the wilderness, only reached by hastily built access roads. In places like Western Canada, this means you’ll be heading into thick boreal forest, where encounters with bears and ravenous hordes of mosquitoes are common. If you are running a crew for the first time, realize the terrain can get quite marshy in places – this can create problems as winter transitions to spring, making it impossible to get gear in and out without having some Durabase road mats in place.
The Outback and the Top End of Australia are also notorious for ground that can get mucky after a torrential downpour – having mats deployed will ensure access to your site is maintained through all weather conditions.
The money is awesome, but free time comes at a premium
The oil industry pays some of the best wages for labour in the working world. A derrick hand who takes their regular shift and holidays can easily make $70,000 a year, while those who forsake vacations and takes all overtime they are offered can make more than a quarter million dollars per annum. While that sounds amazing to the average layperson, realize oil workers work some of the longest hours of any profession. 84 hour weeks are not uncommon, 12-hour shifts are the rule, and work schedules will have you out at site for weeks at a time.
Of course, you’ll often get a week or more off at once, but these schedules can make it tough to make plans with friends and family. Given the money that can be made in this line of work, though, most adjust to this reality relatively well.
Get in shape
Working on an oil rig is one of the most physically demanding professions you’ll ever attempt. For example, when drill bits need to be extracted, you’ll be lifting extremely heavy pipes with your crewmates for close to an hour, with only occasional stops to rest.
Show up out of shape, and this job will eat you up. If you want to work on the rigs, hit the gym months before applying and improve your lower and upper body strength before you fill out a single application.
Safety is of paramount importance
There are countless ways to die on the rigs. From heavy tools carelessly swung about to H2S gas leaks, a moment of inattention can cost you – or a co-worker – your/their time on this planet.
Pay attention when getting your First Aid and H2S Alive tickets and in daily safety meetings on site. The information you learn may save your life – or someone else’s.