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Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months!
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Atlantic Offline
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RE: Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months!
Ya I can't really speak for any other trades but Scotian is right about the rig work being good if you are moving from abroad. I am at work at the moment and not too busy so Ill post up on what I reckon for people joining the rigs. It is actually kind of crazy how easy going my current position is, last night I watched Casino Royale, Die Hard 1 and Aliens vs Predators 2 (rubbish haha). In fact it is a joke on the rig that I am the movie watching dude (M-W-D) haha. Means I get to read the board a lot, do some POF pipe-lining and catch up on emails. In fact I am reading up on Ducati bikes because I was watching Tron earlier and they look pretty sick. All while keeping well on top of my work. Anyways..

I am far from an expert but I did a lot of research before I left:

I will give a basic overview of the rig as best I can and then give the options for people starting off:

Drilling rigs once set up go non stop round the clock. They might not always be drilling but you will be constantly working. It is 14 days of 12 hours shifts, the first week will be from 7am to 7pm and then the next 7pm to 7am. Or maybe you will do nights first. The drilling floor works on a hierarchic system. Leasehand to Floorhand to Motorhand to Derrickhand to Driller. Sometimes they have a roughneck position which is above a floorhand and below a motorhand.

You take orders from those above you and give them to people below you. The lower down the ladder you are, with lease-hand being the very bottom, the harder you work and more shit you get. The driller could drop his lunch and you are expected to clean it up. That being said all the different positions on the drill floor are extremely physical demanding and as you more up increasing technical and not until you get to the Drillers position do you get to relax a bit more. But they still work hard and have to be on the ball. Basically you want to be prepared to work hard and have a high tolerance for taking shit and following orders. I just took it all on the chin and either kept quite or just go with the joke. Don't react and take it personally. It is kind of a test to see if you can handle the pressure of work and them too. In fact half way through my first week as a leasehand the roughneck brought me out all night drinking and partying and we only arrived back 5 minutes before shift with no sleep. He said he needed to check if I can handle working after no sleep and being out drinking all night haha. H said the same had been done to him when he started. Being Irish and having worked everyday all summer back home hungover I passed handy enough. That earned me some more respect from the rest of the drilling crew.

That is how it seems to be, handle yourself like a man, earn your keep, realize your place on the ladder and you will do well.

I worked with one of the main companies and got all my gear included as part of my training package. Since I quit it will come out of my paycheck but if I didn't it would have been free after 3 months. I didn't need to bring anything with me. Camp job so all my food, towels, blankets, soap etc. included Some thermals and clothes for the evenings that's about it.

I have heard of people moving up to drilling in as little as 2-3 years. That is 170k a year or more and lots of time off. Good job. If you did get this far you will likely be pretty alpha (hate using that word) and built like a house. You pretty much have to be since you have had a couple of years of hard labor and are in charge of 5 other guys full time. That is one downside to working inside as an MWD- lack of physical work but I am going to start working out in the mornings to compensate for that.

The other route if you want to avoid working on the floor too long (fair enough- it is pretty dangerous and hard on you body long term) is once you have a bit of experience on the rigs or/and a technical course or degree you can try get an inside job. The easiest and best one to start is as an MWD.

Most sites make it out to be super hard and technical but it is not too bad. You are expected to pick it up at a reasonalbe pace but as long as you have a good attitude and eager to learn they will love you. As a trainee I work from 5pm to 7am and am kind of in charge of training myself. I have to figure out what I don't know and then ask the next day on my own time how it should have been done. This is because the guy training me isn't directly hired by the company so he doesn't really have to train me if he doesn't want to haha. These guys really call the shots after a few years and as long as you are good at your job.

My wages are kind of crazy right now, between 12k-14k a month. That is only starting rates too, once you 'break out' you earn around a 1000 a day. By then though you are a consultant though so you take care of all your own expenses. Means you can write off tax expenses though which seems to be pretty much everything. I make in a day right now what I made in a week back home. Plus all my expenses are covered. I have not spent anything in about 8 days now. Good for saving.

From here you can go into Directional Drilling (1200-2000 a day) after about 3-5 years. Once you are this far it is easy to get work abroad and you will be highly sought out. They have a lot more responsibly though and have to be paying attention a lot more.

Down the line there are other positions like toolpusher, rig manager, company man etc. Google those. Plus the geologist but I don't know too much about that. After a few years in any position and especially if you have a petroleum engineering course done ( 2 years I think ) you can go into sales. The guys here were saying they get back handers all the time for choosing who to pick and can end up making close to a million a year. It is mad corrupt and all under the table. Again I don't know too much about that yet but sounds kind of crazy, fixing lucrative drilling licences and hiding all this secret bribery cash. Maybe down the line haha...

I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they can hack it. Google some sites, do a little research and you will start getting the picture pretty fast of how it all works. The money is good no matter where you start and as long as you work hard and get on with people you will move up fast. Plus it is a good laugh, no BS work atmosphere and lots of funny stories and banter. Kind of like being in a rugby club or something similar.

Oh ya you get spring break every year. 6-8 weeks off around March and June to spend all your cash and travel wherever you want.

Right any questions on rigs post em up and Ill see what I can do.
(This post was last modified: 12-16-2012 01:21 AM by Atlantic.)
12-16-2012 01:17 AM
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Messages In This Thread
RE: Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months! - Atlantic - 12-16-2012 01:17 AM
Risks, opportunities, import/export - OSL - 03-16-2013, 06:58 AM