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What is it like working on an oil rig? Part 2

Posted: 16/11/2011 5:00:00 AM by Mining Oil and Gas Jobs
Filed under: Oil-and-gas, Job-seekers


Yesterday we took a look at what it’s like working on an oil rig off the Australian coast. We focused the positives, based on the experiences of Andy, an Aussie who’s been on the rigs for five years. Today, Andy tells us about some of the disadvantages of working on oil rigs.

Challenges of working on an oil rig

While not wanting to whinge, Andy was pretty straight with us about what he sees as the “many negative aspects to living and working away from home”.

“Relationships with friends and family often break down,” he said.

“This, in my opinion, is the worst thing about being away. The amount of marriages breaking up I have heard of is astronomically bad and even when things ‘are going well at home’, there is still fear and imbalance with almost everyone out there.”

So the strength of your relationships is likely to be tested.

“From my experience absence makes the heart grow fonder, but then it seems the distance can act as a curtain to hide problems behind,” Andy said.

“Telephone or, worse, email arguments are very uncool and often unresolved. But I do know some families that seem to have been doing this for years and, because they are so strong as a unit, seem to work through everything well together.”


If you’re thinking about getting a job on an oil rig, it’s definitely best to discuss it with your family first.

Terms and conditions

There’s also the issue of job security. You won’t necessarily be employed in the traditional “full-time” way you might expect.

“I am also a casual employee, meaning I have no sick leave, no paid holidays (these things are incorporated into my day rate) and a clause that I can get fired with two hours notice,” Andy said.

Cramped quarters

Then, of course, there are the living conditions. Andy says rigs are “smelly, unsafe, uncomfortable, cramped” and they certainly don’t offer much privacy.

“You’re often sharing a room with three other people (who will smell bad, stay up late, belch and snore loudly),”
he said.

“Two of these rooms will share a bathroom or, worse, there’ll be just one large communal bathroom with showers and toilets.”

Leisure time on an oil rig

And what about your free time?

Andy says there are four forms of recreation:
  • The galley: “Where the food is fantastic and I frequently gain weight”.
  • The gym: “The battle for ‘mirror space’ to perfect your bicep curl is not on my agenda, but everywhere has an exercise bike and rowing machine. Also there is usually a helideck where you can walk laps. Swimming is banned – too many sharks!”
  • The TV room: Every rig/boat has a massive TV where people put on movies or watch one of the million Foxtel channels – but it is almost always tuned into re-runs of cage fighting championships.
  • Reading: “My favourite recreation is to read a book that takes me away to another time and place, before I fall asleep dreaming I am anywhere other than in a room with three other smelly, snoring men.”

Remember Andy has been working on the rigs for five years, and plans to do another two. For all of these little grumbles and concerns, it’s a lifestyle he loves and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

If you’re interested in getting a job in the oil and gas industry, check out our Lifestyle Guide. Don’t forget to hop over to our jobs board and find a job in the oil and gas industry.

What do you think; could you live on an oil rig?



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