As a chemical engineering student, I must admit that I have always wondered how it feels like to work offshore in a petroleum company or any oil and gas servicing company. During my second year study in Bradford University (14 years ago), I was offered an internship with Exxon Mobile. I was so anxious and proud to be offered an internship by such a successful multinational company. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I was not able to participate. It was such a disappointing moment.
|Myself on a boat in front of a small platform
6 years after that, I managed to set foot on an offshore platform in the middle of South China Sea. It was my first time flying in a helicopter to a Bekok C, a gas gathering platform owned by Petronas Carigali Berhad. That time I worked for a local oil and gas servicing company and my role was to investigate the reason why the hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) level was so high in its offshore facility. I traveled with our very experience principal from a Canadian Oil and Gas Servicing company. The first trip to an offshore platform was very exciting, interesting and simply amazing.
Few months after that, I regularly traveled to several other offshore platforms in South China Sea. This time my role was to conduct bottle test to understand the oil condensate problems and suggest suitable specialty chemicals to treat and stimulate the well. This is because after several years of operation, the offshore platform will face low production due to massive drilling of the oil. Some of the oil well produces more emulsion, more water, more unwanted compounds rather than the black precious oil.
During my stay in those offshore platforms, I observed the work and life of people on it. I also observed the kind of work that were carried out on an offshore oil rig platform. There are numerous jobs that can be done by various level and skills of workers. Read on, this may interest some of you. You don’t need to graduate or be a chemical engineer to work on offshore oil rig platform.
In layman terms, let me briefly share the types of jobs available. In no particular order, there are chemist, chemical engineer, petroleum engineer, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, technician, fitter, welder, crane operator, cleaner, cook, chef, forklift driver, lab technician, domestic worker, manager, superintendent, medical officer, radio controller, pilot, captain/helmsman (drives boat/ship), safety/HSE officer,
Well, based on my experience and from some references, I can categorize the job scope or work on a offshore platform to be (1) Leasehand (2) Floorhands (3) Motorhand (4) Derrickhand (5) Driller (6) Rig Manager (7) Etc.
Leasehand offshore oil rig positions are entry-level. The position exists to help inexperienced individuals become familiar with the activities around an oil rig. The requirement for this position is very minimum that I believe having secondary school certificate/education is already sufficient. Individuals beginning as Leasehands can move up to the position of Floorhand within a short period of time depending on their ability, experience and availability of other positions at the offshore oil rig platform.
Among the duties of a leasehand are they may be required to load and unload trucks, manage laundry, sweep.clean floor, dig ditches, build fences, and assist other crew members with maintenance and pre-job preparedness. Leasehands are also responsible for various other housekeeping on the off-shore rig.
Floorhands on oil rigs spend a lot of time working on the offshore oil rig offshore platform. In general, Floorhands will perform cleaning and maintenance job, assist in laying casing into a well after it has been drilled, wrench-like tongs to smoothly and quickly connect and disconnect the lower parts of the drill pipe when it is being lowered into and raised from the hole, catch samples of drilled cuttings to be analyzed, and assist other members of the oil rig crew wherever needed. Besides that, Floorhands are also responsible in housekeeping duties around the offshore oil rig as well the rig. Floorhands tasks is more critical than a Leasehand.
An experienced Floorhand may move into the position of Motorhand. Motorhands, as with all positions, do not earn their position by equipment knowledge and function alone. It is earned by basic training, achieving safe work ethics, knowledge of procedures and following those procedures. A Motorhand can already be considered skillful worker.
|Power tong operators handling hydraulic power tongs
Motorhands are responsible for operating and maintaining the engines that power the drilling equipment which include turn the rotary table, run the draw-works to hoist the drill pipe, and circulate the drilling fluid. In addition to that, Motorhands also operate boilers, maintain a supply of hand tools, lubricate moving parts, ensure emergency shut-offs are tested and operational, regularly check tongs and spinning chain, and help other members of the crew. Motorhands are also responsible for helping to train Floorhands and Leasehands. In certain cases, this group of people are also called power tong operators who operate hydraulic power tongs that are used to connect casing.
An experienced Motorhand may move into the position of Derrickhand. Derrickhands work in the derrick on offshore oil rigs, high above the rig floor on a platform called a monkeyboard. Derrickhands must use harness and platform climbing device to get to the proper position on the derrick when drill string or casing pipe is being raised from or lowered into the hole. Derrickhands most important tasks are to guide the lengths of pipe into and out of the elevators, and steady each pipe while it is being connected to or disconnected from the drill or casing string.
The Driller is in charge of the operation of the rig and crew during their tour. They are primarily in control of operating the oil rig and hoisting equipment, and managing the rig floor and driller’s console which includes brakes, throttles, clutches and various gauges. By watching various instruments and gauges closely, the Driller makes adjustments as conditions require. Drillers are responsible for the drilling equipment, and for ensuring that the oil rig crew performs its job safely and efficiently, and within the regulatory requirements of the industry. Often that I observed, the oil company will contract this job to oil and gas servicing company to perform the drilling job.
In some places, Rig Manager is also referred to as Plant Superintendent. He is fully responsible of his oil rig he is in charge off. He is also responsible for all the paperwork generated at the rig (P.O.’s, tour sheets, reports, etc.) that they must ensure are filled out completely and properly. The electronic tour sheets have to be sent in daily. To do all this, the toolpush needs a reliable crew. This person is on call 24 hours a day.
The Rig Manager coordinate the work of the crews and individuals on each rig under their supervision as well as the work of any additional service hands that may be required. Rig Managers normally learn their job through on the job training by working up through the ranks of the basic crew. This experience is vital in order to supervise the oil rig operations, take over running of the rig in emergencies, or assist in times of peak load particularly during rig-up or rig-down operations. Rig Managers must always exhibit superior leadership, excellent managerial skills and precise organizational skills.
Those are among some jobs that I can think off. If you can think of other jobs, please kindly let me know. Cheers.
Recommended Resources: Offshore
Offshore provides a rich editorial blend of international news and technology for marine/offshore operations around the world. Topics covered include seismic services, exploration, drilling, production, processing, pipelining, operating problems and design solutions. The publisher of this magazine is PennWell Corporation. To get this FREE magazine, click HERE.
2nd Image credited to its-energyservices.com/services/casing_running/
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