Jobs on a UK oil rig

There are many different oil rig jobs that are ubiquitous to large production rigs, and there are an enormous number of specialised jobs that are project based. 

Specialised doesn’t mean it is unattainable for a person new to the industry, these hire trainees all the time. Because the industry is so specialised, most of the jobs require on the job training, you don’t need to have experience before getting the job.

Let’s take a look at the jobs on UK oil rig.

rig jobs in the UK north sea

Jobs that you will find on most oil rigs

Since this website is more for people new to the industry, this list will be simplified. 

  • Stewards (cleaning, housekeeping)
  • Stewards (kitchen, cooking cleaning)
  • Chef 
  • Camp Boss (the head of the Stewards) 
  • Admin (keeping track of rooms, who is going on and off etc) 
  • Medic/hospital 
  • Heli crew / HLO (helicopter landing officer) 
  • Fire safety crew (in charge of firefighting and safety duties
  • Storeman
  •  Electrician
  • Mechanics
  • Heating
  • Plumbing engineers 
  • Instrument techs
  • Riggers (rigging and lifting) 
  • Process operators (controlling the flow)
  • Operations managers
  • Air traffic controller 
  • Welders
  • Handyman (the all rounder) 
  • Scaffolders
  • ROV (Some rigs have ROVs)
  • Crane operators

Other jobs where you work on oil rigs

As well as rig jobs that are there all the time, there are project based jobs. Project jobs cover so many different areas, from the construction of the rig and maintenance.

  • Painters
  • More scaffolders
  • More welders
  • More riggers
  • Compressor operators
  • Pump operators
  • Pressure testing pumping crews
  • Lacquering
  • Bolt torquing and tensioning
  • Mechanics
  • Welding inspectors
  • Chemical cleaning
  • Retro-jetting (spraying high pressured water)
On top of these, there are so many specialised pieces of equipment, both existing on the rig, and also brought in to do some work on a rig, that literally thousands of people will come on to a rig to perform various specific jobs.
For example
Pigging (sending a PIG, a Pipeline Inspection Gauge, down a pipeline from one side to another)
Radio active services companies come on board to set some of the level gauges.
Inspectors will come onto the oil rig to check something specific every 6 months / 1 year etc.

Turbine specialist

The list would go on and on. 

Shutdown - busy times

Shutdowns on oil rigs are a very busy time, this is when they ‘shut down’ production. 

During normal running of an oil rig, oil is flowing constantly from the depths of the earth, through the pipelines, all the separators, all the pumps, through the main trunk pipeline going back to shore, through the processing plant onshore. There is a lot going on, and while it is running the company is making 10s of millions of pounds per day. So…. 

The operator (the company that owns everything) doesn’t want to stop production, so all maintenance that requires to stop production is done all at the same time, for as short of time as possible. A lot of work happens during a shutdown, it is so busy, and there are so many people with different random jobs all over the place. 

A shutdown might last 4 weeks, and with over 100 rigs in the north sea, there are large service companies that are busy all year round performing some specialised service on the rigs. 

Drilling rigs - how they are different

On drilling rigs, there is a totally different purpose, they move around, over positions they think will be good for oil reserves, and start drilling. 

There are a number of different jobs that are specific to drilling: 

  • Deck hands (job you do before becoming a roustabout) 
  • Roustabout
  • Derrickman (works on the drilling derrick, the higher point where the next pipe is connected. 
  • Drillers 
  • LWD / MWD logging/measuring while drilling
  • Chemists 
  • Geologists
  • Marine crew, motor engineers (the rigs move around and need a crew to run the boat/marine side of things)
  • Dynamic positioning engineers (the thruster system that controls the position of the boat on one spot) 

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