Behind The Scenes Of A Working Oil Rig

Oil rig photo by Tsuda. License: CC BY-SA 2.0.

Oil rigs are enormous, industrial giants out in the ocean. Yet, at the same time, they’re oddly beautiful and fascinating. At least, they are from afar! Up close, they certainly are industrial giants. These vital engineering structures exist to draw oil and natural resources from deep beneath the ocean. They have become an integral part of the powerful oil industry that keeps our lights on and cars moving. But, what’s it like onboard one of these monster oil rigs? What sort of jobs really exist here, and what’s it like to live on board?

Our curiosity got the better of us, so we reached out to the experts. We are obsessed with technology and engineering here, so we were keen to learn more. As loyal readers, we hope you find this relatively untouched topic as intriguing as we do! Without further ado, let’s take a look at the real-life experiences on board an oil rig.


The first thing that strikes you is the isolated and remote lifestyle that exists on an oil rig. It’s much the same as shipping out in the navy or being posted abroad in the army. Oil rig workers are flown out to remote locations, and employed in long shift patterns. Many workers will work away from home for months at a time. When not on board, they’ll stay in local accommodation at the nearest port or dockyard. When on the rig, they’re expected to work twelve hours shifts to keep the rig working around the clock.


As for the jobs on board, it’s more varied than you might expect. Of course, you suspect the obvious roles like engineering and natural resource experts. But, there’s also an enormous administration team involved to keep everything running smoothly. Logistics and management are essential to keeping the rig functioning. That means managing all the people on board, and their accommodation and travel off board. There are catering teams looking after every meal of the day. Last of all, there are expert health and safety members on the rig at all times. Safety in the workplace has never been more important! Inspections take place daily, and their job never ends.


After that, the job descriptions are split into two main roles. The first is general maintenance of the rig itself. These operatives make sure the central structure of the rig is strong and functional. Jobs include rig welding, electronics maintenance, and engine audits. These teams make sure the rig never stops working, and that everything complies to regulations.

Drilling experts

Finally, there are the experts behind the main part of the rig: drilling. After all, the rig exists to drill oil from the ground. The team here is comprised of engineers and natural resource experts. They make sure that the rig pumps the right amount of oil, and keeps the core equipment and machinery functional. As you would expect, this is one of the trickiest jobs on board.

That’s all for today, folks! We hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual tour of a working oil rig. There’s certainly more than meets the eye when it comes to these industrial giants!

Oil rig photo by Tsuda. License: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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