Drill rigs are used to confirm that oil exists – and the amount and type of oil – in an area that scientists have identified as highly likely to hold oil. They are also used to drill wells for oil production.

45 to 150 people are required on board to operate an offshore drill rig and conduct the necessary drilling activities. The cost of building a drill rig can exceed $750 million.

The drill rigs that are commonly used offshore Newfoundland and Labrador include the West Aquarius, the Henry Goodrich, the GSF Grand Banks and the West Hercules.

Onshore drilling rigs – which are quite different from offshore rigs – may be seen again in the future on the Port au Port Peninsula on Newfoundland’s west coast. There they will drill exploratory wells to get further information about oil that has been discovered both on and offshore in the region.

These installations extract oil so many of the positions involved are technical and/or hands-on in nature. The offshore rigs require working on a rotational basis, living on the rig for about 21 days, followed by 21 days off.

Drilling:

  • Roughnecks – general labourers on a drilling rig  who are expected to do everything from washing and painting the rig to handling the bottom end of the drill pipe and tools as they are run into and pulled out of the well.
  • Derrickmen – handle the top end of the drillpipe. Some roughnecks progress to this position with experience and good job performance.
  • Drillers – run drillpipe into and out of the well and manage the crew on the drill floor.
  • Toolpushers – manage the overall drilling operations. The Toolpusher is the senior representative from the drilling company.
  • Drilling Superintendents – the senior oil company representatives on location and responsible for the overall drilling operations.
  • OIMs (Offshore Installation Managers) – in charge of the offshore facility (similar to the Captain of a ship). The OIM is responsible for the overall safety of the installation and all personnel on board.

Well Services:

  • Cementing Technicians – pump cement down the well. Cement is used to form a bond between the casing and the rock that was drilled out.
  • Slickline Wireline Technicians – run mechanical tools into the well on piano wire. By manipulating the tools with upward and downward motions they can place equipment in the well to control it.
  • Well Testing Technicians – flow a well through a small process facility to obtain information on the ability of a reservoir to produce hydrocarbons. The flow rate and pressure information is then used by Reservoir Engineers to update their reservoir models and improve their predictions about the potential of the reservoir.

Technologists:

  • Mechanical Technicians – install and maintain mechanical equipment such as valves, motors, etc.
  • Electrical Technicians – install and maintain electrical equipment.
  • Quality Control Technicians – monitor the quality of finished products to confirm they are defect-free. 
  • Instrumentation Technologists – assist in the development of methods of measuring and controlling processes.

Specialty Services:

  • Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Technicians – perform non-destructive testing inspections of equipment to confirm that it is still fit for purpose. Typical inspections include X-Ray, magnetic particle, dye penetrate, or ultrasonic testing.
  • Tubular Drill Pipe Inspectors – inspect the threads on drill pipe, casing and tubing to ensure the threads have not been damaged.
  • Offshore Radio Operators – maintain communication between the offshore facility and the mainland.
  • Offshore Medics – provide medical support to all personnel while they are offshore.
  • Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Technicians – use their Xbox skills to maneuver unmanned submarines around the offshore facilities. The submarines are used to enable people to look at equipment and  manipulate valves and other objects remotely