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Oil rig jobs: Driller

Driller is a crew leader who directs the crew, and takes responsibility for the technical training of the crew members and ensures that the drilling process is proceeding in a safe and efficient manner according to the mission guidelines. Driller also is responsible for safe and proper operation of the drilling rig through monitoring power systems, carries out safety drills and manages the setting up and movement of the rig. Driller normally starts as a roughneck (driller helper), gains hands on experience as Assistant Driller, and only then gets promoted to the Driller position.

The other members of a drilling crew are:

  • Roughnecks
  • Roustabouts
  • Derrickman
  • Pumpman

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More jobs on offshore and onshore oil rigs

Regardless of the ups and downs of the world economy, oil and gas industry goes ahead with a full-scale recruitment of new workers to fill the vacancies on oil rigs. High bonuses, free trade training programs, and salaries reaching $US 100,000 per year can really impress. The Drillers often earn considerably bigger salaries.

Oil companies like Chevron, BP, Exxon Mobile and others are struggling to overcome the lack of skilled workers needed at offshore oil rigs, and the demand seems to never subside. The industry plans to build and commission 175 - 185 new offshore platforms in the nearest future years, which will add to the currently active 640 sea based oil drilling installations and facilities scattered on huge area around the world from the coast of Vietnam and the Caspian Sea in Russia to Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico. Each next offshore oil drilling project is estimated to require on average 200 workers. On average it takes a decade to complete an oil exploration project that can be expected to operate for over 30 years. If we see into the statistics from Chevron, in 2008 year only, the corporation hired approx. six thousand new employees for different types of oil rig jobs, both specialist and unskilled entry-level.

The salaries for different oil drilling job categories have risen by approximately 30% in the recent years. A roughneck, as they call the low end general purpose workers doing hard manual labor on oil rigs in the US can earn $US 100,000 per year, while senior engineers can earn up to $US 500,000 annually. Big salaries for oil drillers, aren't they?

Hard work conditions on oil rigs

But this is not the money that comes easy. Working on an offshore platform involves manual work by shifts without rest in any kind of whether - the oil rig or drillship never stops the operation. Exxon Mobil Corporation, BP PLC, Chevron, and other companies keep increasing their recruitment and training budgets, hiring HR professionals to look for suitable candidates on their behalf, and socializing with students in the college campuses. There are students doing their summer internships, with salaries of between $US 5,000 to $US 7,000 per month, and receiving bonuses $US 10,000 to 20,000, according to another source in the University of Texas.

Back in 1990 the oil companies used to hire substantially fewer workers, which lead eventually to the abrupt shortage in workforce, trained and capable of performing different types of oil drilling jobs both at low end like electricians, welders, rope access technicians, scaffolders, welders, riggers, drillers, pipefitters, mechanics, motormen, even people in catering; from the high end there's a shortage on mechanical engineers and other high tech staff. The workforce structure demographics on offshore oil rigs revealed there are 2 big groups of workers with 25 and up to 5 years of experience, and very little in between. It's not really hard to get a job in oil and gas, it's really hard to keep it. The reason is the strenuous and physically demanding nature of employment on oil rigs, especially offshore. And that's the reason of the high workforce turnover rate within the industry and the explanation why the oil companies never stop hiring greenhand workers.

Foreign oil rig workers

New prospects of employment in the oil & gas arose for foreigners: contracts go beyond graduates of the Western universities. BP has launched a training program in Angola, and is just in course of making a $US 50 million worth investment into engineering schools in Libya.

Hard work vs big salaries

In Stavanger, home to the offshore oil production industry in Norway, workers enjoy wages that start at $US 100,000 a year. Additionally, the offshor workers get a 3 weeks vacation after working non-stop for one week. This means getting 12 months salary for actually working 3 months a year with the remaining 9 months being on a paid leave. Of course, the companies are not happy to pay such price for retaining skilled workforce, but under the pressure of so much competitive labor market it's oil rig workers that have the upper hand. The more so, that working on offshore oil rigs have always been dangerous, even if both the oil companies and governments of the main oil producing countries like the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, China, Australia, Russia, South Africa and the others do their best to prevent the accidents like one that the notorious BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico. The safety measures still to be tightened.

The Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster

Deepwater Horizon, the offshore platform, which the BP hired for oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, has been owned by Transocean. The platform was managed by the Transocean appointed oil rig managers. Deepwater Horizon had equipment malfunctioning problems that were troubleshot well ahead of the time the explosion took place. The specialists of both Transocean and BP had reported problems dealing with the maintenance of the oil rig several times before the accident actually happened, some of them were fixed, but it would have cost too much to stop the drilling for the oil, and take a pause for the full-scale maintenance procedure to complete on the offshore oil platform.

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