A Look into Life on an Offshore Drilling Rig

Living and working on an island with two weeks off every month sounds like the dream. For offshore workers, it’s their life—and while it has its upsides, it's certainly not always a "dream."¬†While the schedule sounds lightweight, it is purposefully designed to provide a built-in balance to the long, arduous hours and close quarters aboard the rig. Cities in their own right, offshore rigs have a peculiar way of bringing coworkers together as a second family and support group for life out on the water. Let's take closer look into life on an offshore drilling rig.

Living Quarters: Dorm Life Meets Cruise Trips

Quarters on an oil rig look like a mix between an industrial park and a cramped hotel. Many rigs have small living quarters that are a cross between a dorm room and a locker, usually consisting of a pair of bunk beds, a desk, and locker space. Day in and day out, offshore workers share every meal together. Although the workers put in 12-14 hour days, they still make time for activities. Many offshore workers have access to an onboard gym, movies, laundry, and other sources of entertainment. Ping pong is widely popular.

Thankfully, though every worker can expect to have a roommate, people can still be afforded a little privacy. Some rigs ensure that roommates are on different shift schedules, allowing them to have the room to themselves for a few hours.

What Rig Supervisors Look For

With intense work, long hours, and cramped space, the need for interpersonal skills is far higher than you might need at a normal office job.

According to Todd Hooker, a control-room operator for Shell, the most important thing about a rig worker isn't technical ability—it's the ability to get along with others. "We were looking for communication skills. We had one exercise called ‘Lost on the Moon,’ where we asked a small group to think about which tools they’d need if they were on one side of the moon and wanted to get to the other side," he said. "We wanted to see who took leadership positions and who was argumentative.”

In organizational psychology, a workplace's "culture" determines how well people do in that workplace. In an office, the "culture" receives a great deal of lip service—but on a rig, how well someone fits into a culture is even more vital. After all, workers are stranded together on the same tiny island hundreds of miles from the shore.

The Pros & Cons of a Career in Offshore Drilling

Life on an offshore drilling rig is not for everyone. The long hours, hard work, and demanding schedules quickly weed out workers, leaving only the most motivated and disciplined individuals behind. In addition, this line of work is far more dangerous than any other industry and has the potential to lead to offshore injuries and disasters. The hours and dangers can be difficult for those with family and young children at home.

Despite the challenges, though, oil rigs are populated by people who fought to be there—people who are partially responsible for an operation worth billions of dollars. Not just anyone can jump on a rig.

Those who do stick with it find that they can earn a good living while avoiding the unending 9-5 grind. The camaraderie between coworkers lightens the isolation of working on an offshore rig, and the extensive time off enables workers to pursue other interests. Most importantly, workers get to lead comfortable lifestyles and provide for their families with a job that doesn't typically require a degree.

When Offshore Drilling Rigs Become Dangerous

While offshore drilling can provide a wealth of opportunities to earn money, it can also prove to be high-risk. Fatalities in the drilling industry are 7 times higher than any other industry in the U.S. Due to the nature of the work, these injuries are far from casual, either.

When things go wrong, it is crucial to have a legal team that is dedicated to your protection. At Arnold & Itkin, our offshore injury lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of the injured. Whether an accident or employer negligence left you injured, our team can capably pursue compensation on your behalf. Our clients, which included over a third of the Deepwater Horizon crew, have won billions of dollars to rebuild their lives.

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