Careers in the Oil Industry - Brian
Well where to begin! This is just a small note to give those who are interested an insight into life living and working offshore from someone (me) who has just started doing just that!
I suppose a good place to start is the training you receive, currently I am a mudlogger (or logging specialist/geologist if you want the flashy title) working in the North Sea. The first portion of training you receive is in how to do the job, its like sedimentary rock identification 101 although its amazing how much you can forget, providing you knew it in the first place which may be where I went wrong.... Anyway the specific task related training obviously alters dependant on what your role offshore will be so I won’t go into specifics about it. One portion of training which everyone has to do regardless of what they’re future job will be is the offshore survival training. This is a three day course which takes you through everything from first aid to escaping the rig via the age old method of jumping off! Some of the things you are taught can be quite daunting, well if not the actual technique the prospect of using them in reality! However all in all the training is not that bad. One much fabled piece of the training which I feel obliged to go into is the helicopter escape portion. During this you are trained to do exactly that escape an either submerging or submerged helicopter via the windows. The first thing I have to say is that its not that bad in our group we had non=swimmers who, although admittedly frightened coped just fine, this is more of a mental exercise than anything else just getting your head around that you’ll only be underwater for between seven and twelve seconds can be quite difficult.
Moving on to actual life offshore! Traveling offshore can take anything from half an hour to over two hours depending on distance and winds but most just catch up on some reading or sleep on the helicopter. Once you get offshore you are given an introduction to the facility, which includes if necessary a guided tour and instruction on any of the safety systems onboard. Then generally you go to bed as, with my job at any rate, you start on nightshift. As anyone who has ever done a series of nightshifts in the past will know the first night is the toughest but once its over with you quickly get into a rhythm which even though your never quite sure which day it is you get by just fine. You finally get back onto dayshift when your relief goes back onshore and as such the individual replacing them goes onto nights in your place. The actual work of a mudlogger is not incredibly difficult. You collect as many samples as are dictated by the well site geologist and identify them as you go, adding these newly identified rocks onto a seemingly never ending log which gets checked daily by the geologist. When drilling ceases onboard a rig the life of a mudlogger generally gets very easy as with no samples coming up there is literally nothing to do but sit back and amuse yourself. Boredom can feature quite heavily but by bringing books etc for the times when you have nothing to do can generally fight this off! Other than this it is the mudloggers responsibility to make up the end of well report. This is a basically a geological report of all rock types which are drilled through on the course of the well and usually you fill this in as you go so it’s never to large a task.
Life offshore is generally quite a comfortable one. Its not home by any stretch but all your meals are cooked for you, your washing is done for you and your bed is even made for you. Most rigs have adequate recreational facilities in the way television, the internet etc. Some are better equipped than others, with pool tables, snooker tables, darts and so on but this varies from rig to rig. There is also always a gym onboard for those who feel the need to get some exercise as life offshore can be quite a lazy one if you want! Working offshore occurs in 12-hour shifts either 0600-1800 or 0700-1900 or the reverse if you’re on night shift, although this seems like a long time you find it can pass quite quickly when you’re working so it’s really not that bad. In your twelve hours off you find time to eat, sleep and make use of the recreational facilities I mentioned earlier! It’s not a lot of down time granted but it works well since before you know it your time offshore has passed and its time for some well earned rest onshore!
Well I hope this has served as a small overview of how working and living offshore can be. As a final note I’d just like to add that although working offshore may not be for everyone it is definitely something to bear in mind when thinking about what you want to do with your degree!