Imagine standing on the deck of an offshore drilling platform in
the middle of the ocean. In your hands rest the controls that keep
the enormous structure stable or keyed-in to its desired location.
Or perhaps you would rather inspect and repair underwater oil and
gas wells using sophisticated remote operating vehicles. These are
just some of the exciting opportunities waiting for you if you
choose a career in the realm of Oil and Gas Marine Specialties.
As a Marine Specialist, you get to test your physical and mental
stamina while at sea. Your technical abilities are essential for
maintaining a safe and efficient operation. You also play a vital
role in supporting offshore oil and gas exploration and
What do Oil and Gas Marine Specialists do?
You have your choice of six diverse and exciting marine
specialties that support offshore oil and gasoperations. Most of
these jobs are located at major offshore project sites on Canada's
east coast. They are:
- Ballast and Stability
Control: Operators control ballast systems that maintain
vessel or platform stability.
- Commercial Marine
Diving: Divers support many underwater operations
including surveying, construction, drilling and wellhead
operations, inspections, troubleshooting, repair and
- Dynamic Positioning
(DP): Operators control and monitor the DP system that
maintains the desired position of the vessel or platform over a
subsea well during drilling operations.
Communications: Operators monitor and operate all marine,
aeronautical and ship-to-shore communications.
- Remotely Operated Vehicle
(ROV) Operation: Operators control remotely operated
vehicles that aid in underwater activities such as construction,
inspection, search, salvage, repair, and photography.
- Seismic Exploration:
Seismic Observers coordinate marine seismic operations that include
the initiation of seismic shock waves, and the recording of data
received for geological analyses. These operations help to
determine the existence and extent of oil and gas deposits below
the surface of the ocean.
How do I become an Oil and Gas Marine Specialist?
The qualifications required for each specialty are as diverse as
the specialties themselves. High school graduation, good physical
conditioning, an excellent work ethic, a willingness to learn, and
clean drug/alcohol test results are the minimum requirements for
all positions. Specific qualifications for each specialty are as
- Ballast Control
Operator: 12 weeks of on-the-job training and experience
as an entry level trainee.
- Commercial Marine
Diver: Graduation from an accredited commercial dive
school; certification from the Canadian Diver Certification Board;
some relevant commercial diving experience; CPR training; and a
diving medical authorization from an approved hyperbaric
- Dynamic Positioning
Operator: Possession of a Second Mates Ticket and three to
five years of related experience in offshore drilling operations.
As a trainee, you undertake extensive GPS and dynamic position
simulator training and coursework.
- Radio Operator: A
diploma or certificate in Wireless Telecommunication Technology,
Emergency Service Telecommunications or related education.
On-the-job training is typically provided by the
- ROV Pilot /Operator:
One to two years of formal electrical/electronic coursework coupled
with approximately three or more years of marine-related
experience. On-the-job training is also provided.
- Marine Seismic
Observers: Some land or sea seismic crew experience as a
Shooter/Blaster and/or Recorder. Most employers provide on-the-job
training in safety and operations.
What are the working conditions like?
All Marine Specialists work in relative isolation common to
offshore facilities and vessels. Meals and accommodations are
provided. Weather conditions can range from warm and sunny to
blustery and cold. Travel to and from the worksite is typically by
helicopter. Shifts are generally 12 hours in duration and
appropriate time off is given depending on the rotation. For some
positions such as Dynamic Positioning Operators, work schedules can
be extensive and they may work up to 21 days onrotation.
For Commercial Divers, diving can be physically demanding and,
in some cases, potentially hazardous. Divers must observe safety
precautions at all times to avoid pressure-related injuries and
underwater hazardous conditions. For ROV Pilots/Operators, jobs are
typically home-based and require regular work rotations based on
project assignments. For Seismic Operators, work is primarily on
vessels that are subject to the ruggedness of the sea.
Do I fit the bill?
Do you think you have what it takes to become an Oil and
Gas Marine Specialist?
- I have mechanical ability and
understand technical instructions.
- I pay special attention to detail and
- I am a good problem solver and think
quickly on my feet.
- I am not easily
- I have well developed communication
and computer literacy skills.
- I can follow safety rules and
precautions, and understand their importance when dealing with
potentially hazardous material and equipment.
- I can work rotational shifts and long
hours, and do not mind changes in routine.
- I can handle considerable travel to
and from work locations.
- I can work and live in isolated
regions for extended periods of time.
- I have the tolerance, stamina and
flexibility to work outdoors in any weather conditions.
- I believe in teamwork and understand
that other people will be relying on me.
I believe that following safety policies and procedures is very
- I believe that I have what it takes
to be an excellent Oil and Gas Marine Specialist!
Quick tips and next steps!
- Visit career fairs and talk to oil
and gas marine employers. Check with employment centres,
educational institutions, newspapers, petroleum-related magazines
and the internet for information on career fairs.
- Research the offshore oil and gas
industry's major projects off the east coast of Canada. In
particular, check out the informative websites for the Hibernia,
Sable OffshoreEnergy, Terra Nova, White Rose Oilfield Development,
and Cohasset-Panuke offshore production projects.
- Check out the publication,
Canada's Evolving Offshore Oiland Gas Industry at www.centreforenergy.com
for specifics on marine exploration and development in all of
- Look for summer jobs with offshore
oil and gas companies.
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