Geology And Geophysics

A look at the Drill Crew Needed to Perform Drilling Operations on an Offshore Oil Rig



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There are so many jobs on an offshore drilling rig.  It is almost like a small village group with each person dependent upon others.  Most of the jobs begin at the entry level called "roustabouts.  Oil companies promote from within the group.  It is as if each worker needs to learn the basics of oil drilling and work at each position for several years.  The salaries, at all levels, are high.  If a man or woman is ready and able to do the hard work, the benefits of working on an oil rig is profitable.

*Life on an Offshore Oil Rig*

The work on an offshore rig is hard and physically grueling.  Oil rigs are under the rules of maritime law.  It is like being on a ship.  The kitchen is called a galley and a catering service are hired to provide food, which is said to be outstanding (unless, of course, you are overweight).  The catering service provides cleaning and laundry services along with the cooking.  On the offshore rigs, there are exercise rooms.   There are saunas and recreation rooms If the workers are on a smaller rigs such as,  jack-up rigs or inland barges, they probably do not have as many amenities.

For entertainment, there is a TV room where the crew can gather to watch satellite television, movies or play games.  Most rigs have TVs in the living quarters.  The living quarters are generally similar to cruise ships.

*Types of Jobs on an Offshore Oil Rig

Here are brief descriptions of the different types of jobs on an oil rig.

The most prominent people on the oil rig are the “Roughnecks”.  These men are extremely powerful and have a lot of stamina.  They work extended hours and do backbreaking work.  They are responsible for lengthening the drill pipe as it drills down by making a connection of another pipe.  They do “tripping” (raising and/or lowering the drill pipe) when the drilling bit needs to be changed.  This can take hours or days to complete.  The roughnecks work on it is nonstop.

Roughnecks have to be extremely proficient since they are ones who set up the drilling rig at the beginning of the well.  In addition, they are responsible for moving  heavy equipment.  They need to rig the equipment down at the end of the well.  They normally work twelve hour shifts (known as “towers”).  Most Roughnecks start as “roustabouts” (unskilled laborers) and work their way up the ladder.  It takes months for roustabouts to work their way up from being “worms” (inexperienced) to “hand”.

The roughneck learns how to perform the duty of motorman (he keeps the engines running and taking care of all the equipment.

The drill crew has a full-time electrician who is licensed.  The rig boss is  the “toolpusher”.  Here is the strata from lowest to highest in roughneck jobs.

Derrickman who is responsible for raising and lowering all housing, through the drill floor rotary table.  He stands on the derrick and racks the stands of pipe against the sides of the derrick as it lifts out of the hole.

Floor hands connect the pipes using jumbo tongs.  This dangerous function takes months of training to learn.

Driller is the boss who supervises the drilling/roughneck crew.  The driller also operates the rig controls.  His boss is the toolpusher.

There are many more jobs than the above.  The licensed jobs, such as an electrician is at a different level than the rig workers.  The promotions and steps up the ladder start from the same place.  They begin as roustabouts and become roughnecks. 

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