Day to Day Life On an Oil Platform

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Published: 27th June 2012
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We all consume oil in some form or other. Whether it's through the use of transport, or the use of plastic bags for our shopping, the natural resource is hard to avoid.
While most of us realise it's getting scarcer, this awareness doesn't seem to have done much to decrease our levels of consumption.
A group of people who are fully aware of the continuous decrease in resources, and the dangers of obtaining oil from its offshore locations are the men and women working on oil rigs.
How much do you know about their day to day life on an oil platform?

Functions

Offshore platforms are complex technical structures that either float or are fixed to the sea or ocean bed. They are equipped with the equipment necessary to extract oil and, in some cases, natural gas from deep within the seabed. Drills and pumps work to lift the oil to the surface.
The oil can normally be stored on the rig for a certain period of time before special tankers arrive to transport it.
Many of the platforms have facilities onboard to accommodate workers who often spend a few weeks at sea and a few weeks back on solid ground.

Team Members

An oil platform team consists of operations staff who manage oil extraction, stewards who take care of housekeeping and cooking, service and maintenance staff, medics, and temporary crew like drilling teams. Together they need to ensure self-sufficiency as they could be out at sea for weeks on end.
Another key responsibility is keeping yourself, other team members and the rig as a whole safe.
The crew arrives onboard by helicopter or boat, from which they are towed onto a rig using a “tugger” or basket.

Rules

Anyone working on an oil rig needs to adhere to strict rules and regulations. You cannot afford to be careless as even minor mistakes could be fatal in such extreme circumstances.
Smoking is strictly prohibited on most parts of an oil rig due to oil and natural gas being extremely flammable.
Staff are required to attend weekly meetings, and the occasional emergency exercise or “muster” that instructs them on how to deal with real life emergencies.

Living Quarters

Rigs need to provide comfortable living facilities for workers. These include bunk rooms for sleeping, wash rooms, a dining room, a laundry room, and recreation rooms such as TV lounges, computer and phone rooms for keeping in touch with friends and family, and music rooms.
Any waste produced isn't discarded of in the sea, but rather stowed onboard until it can be towed to land.

Tools and Machinery

Some of the most common tools on a rig are drills of different shapes and sizes capable of creating holes in the seabed and rocks for the extraction of oil. These aren't in constant use as new holes aren't required until the existing ones have run dry.
Pumps are used to extract both the mud and sand lining the sea bed, and the oil itself. Casing is a specific kind of pipe that lines the holes to avoid their collapse.
Other common tools and machinery include shale shakers, shale slides, reserve pits, derricks, and blowout preventers, all of which perform very specific functions.
Most of the equipment onboard an oil platform needs to be powered. This is done by generators as there is no way for the rigs to be connected to a main power circuit.
For safety checks, the oil industry relies on loadbank rental. Loadbanks test electrical equipment to deter potential accidents, and malfunctions that could cost companies up to millions of pounds.

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