Drilling and service rigs dot the Canadian landscape, and play
an important role in meeting our everyday needs for petroleum
products. Without these rigs, we would not have heat for our homes,
fuel for our cars or everyday products that are made out of
plastic. Picture yourself operating these rigs and playing a key
role in the initial stages of oil and gas production!
Drilling is the first step that follows the identification of
oil and gas fields by Geologists. Not all drilling is successful,
but when it is, wells are put in motion to begin the production
process. Drilling rigs are used to drill the initial hole for the
oil or gas well. It is then removed and replaced by a service rig.
The crew prepares the well for production and returns periodically
for maintenance, production enhancement and for plugging it when it
Service rigs vary in type and size, depending on well depths. On
offshore platforms, drilling and service rigs are typically all in
one and their functions are very similar to land-based
What do Drilling and Service Rig Operators do?
The responsibilities of drilling and service rig operators are
very similar. What differs is the equipmentand the time spent on
Drilling Rig Operators consist of three
- Motorhands: Maintain
drilling rig engines, transmissions, heating systems,
diesel/electric generators, motors, hydraulic systems, and other
Operate and maintain drilling fluid systems and pumps during the
- Drillers: Supervise
the crew and operate the drill line reels, rotary equipment and
Service Rig Operators consist of two jobs:
- Derrickhands: Set up
and dismantle the derrick, pumps and tanks; and service, operate,
inspect and monitor all pumps and engines.
Supervise the on-site service crew and all operations of the
How do I become a Drilling andService Rig Operator?
Employers prefer all operators to have a high school diploma and
basic experience in entry-level rig roles, such as Floorhands and
Leasehands. These jobs load/unload trucks, help lay pipe into the
well, remove debris and perform other basic maintenance duties
around the site.
Employers also look for people in good physical condition with a
strong work ethic, willingness to learn, and clean drug/alcohol
test results. Operators must possess a valid drivers' license in
What are the working conditions like?
Onshore, work is mostly performed outdoors in remote locations,
so you may be exposed to extreme weather, and you may stay at
hotels, motels or camps. Dirt, dust, noise and fumes are typical of
rig operations. You might be required to lift items that weigh more
than 25 kilograms. Following safety protocols is essential, as some
exposure to potentially hazardous conditions is possible. Worker
safety is of great concern to the oil and gas industry. Employment
is often seasonal in nature.
By its nature, work on an offshore rig or vessel is isolated.
You may be exposed to inclement weather, rough sea and potentially
hazardous work conditions; however safety protocols are strictly
adhered to. Everyone works as a team. Crew quarters and meals are
Drilling Rig Operators work rotational 12 hour shifts in a 24/7
work environment. Service Rig Operators typically work 8 or 12
daylight hour shifts depending on the employer. Drilling Rig
Operators are more prone to being away from home for extended
periods than are Service Rig Operators. Appropriate time off is
given depending on the rotation and overtime is common.
Do I fit the bill?
Do you think you have what it takes to become a Drilling
and Service Rig Operator?
- I am good at solving technical
problems and think quickly on my feet.
- I am not afraid of asking
- I have good concentration skills and
am not easily distracted.
- I can understand and relay technical
- I have good leadership
- I am capable of working with
potentially hazardous materials and equipment with the right
- I can handle physical exertion and
exposure to heights.
- I am capable of working rotational
shifts,long hours and changes in routine.
- I can cope with extensive travel to
and from rig locations.
- I can work and live in isolated
regions for extended periods of time.
- I can be absent from home for
- I believe in team work and understand
that other people will be relying on me.
- I believe that following safety
policies and procedures is very important.
- I believe that I have what it takes
to be an excellent Drilling and Service Rig Operator!
Quick tips and next steps!
- Visit career fairs and talk to
employers who offer jobs and careers in this occupation. Check with
employment centres, educational institutions, newspapers,
petroleum-related magazines and the internet for information on
- Check the electronic version of
OilDriller Magazine found on theCanadian Association of
Oilwell Drilling Contractors website at:http://www.caodc.ca/
- Check out Facebook, You Tube and
other Internet sites forinteresting insights to the life on
drilling and service rigs.
- Check out petroleum industry museums
such as the CanadianPetroleum Discovery Centre Leduc #1 at www.c-pic.org/index.htm.
- Look for summer jobs with rig
operators and gain experience as aFloorhand or
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