Author Archive: Mark Milne

Life as an Electrician in the Oil & Gas industry

I have been working in and out of the Oil field as an electrician for the past 20 yrs. I have worked from Asia to the North Sea, including spells on land rigs in Russia and Siberia. I have met a lot of different people and had many great experiences.

THE DEMAND

Working away is demanding and generally 12 hour days for 28 days straight. Your ability to remain calm in a high pressure environment, where every minute is another few thousand dollars, can often test you. As an electrician you quickly need to adapt to the technology on the rig you are assigned to. This is not just for understanding how things operate but also so you can troubleshoot and install another add on to limp on to the next hole or shipyard maintenance schedule.

WHAT WE DO

An Electrician by definition is a qualified trades-person who carries out new fitment or repairs of electrical hardware and wiring. Ideally the individual has some experience of working in heavy industry, on planes, boats or oil rigs. This position more often than not starts with an apprenticeship where the student will work close by a more qualified individual to watch and learn while carrying out tasks, this is juxtaposed to having to sit in classrooms and not gain experience. The main systems we work on are high powered generators to supply the large motors for the Top Drive System (TDS), Iron Roughneck, high pressure cleaning pumps and other associated derrick machinery. It is not all about the large operation machinery, sometimes it feels like all you will be doing is changing fluorescent light tubes and sometimes that is all we do for an entire hitch. There is no area on the rig without power and that means there is nowhere that an electrician is not needed, this adds to the demand.

NEXT STEP TO BEING AN ELECTRICIAN

The requirement to always have competent and willing electricians is always there and jobs can be found on rig zone to get in to the oil & gas industry. Being an Electrician is often challenging and something you may also take a lot of pride in. It requires you to be responsible and willing to have people depend on you for the functionality of many operations simultaneously.

Safety is the forefront of many, if not all, jobs now and nowhere more prevalent then as an electrician. For the Electrician it is not just about working with high current or high voltage circuits but it is also about entering confined spaces or other workspaces that are not designed for humans to regularly go. It requires you to keep a reasonable level of physical health and fitness to be an Electrician. For the electrical aspect in safety, we always utilise a lock out procedure on circuits we are going to work on and always test for a ‘dead’ circuit.

Whatever field you enter as an electrician you are assured to be part of an ever evolving industry that is as demanding as rewarding.