Energy sector employment: working on an oil drilling platform

Rabah is Production Engineer at Shell Exploration / Production. He graduated from ENSTA (2005).

Highly competitive, the energy sector is dynamic and provides wide range of carrier opportunities for young graduates.

The job itself

In recent months, I have been working on an oil platform in the North Sea. I work 14 days \ eleven hours a day - with rest periods of 14 days on earth, during which, however, I must remain reachable.

On the platform, we have two main activities: the activities of the office with which we maintain very close contact with the deck crew, and the fieldwork that I enjoy the most. Our platform has 25 beds and can accommodate up to 35 people. "Permanent" residents are the manager of the platform, his assistant, operators and kitchen staff. Contractors are occasionally in addition to them, among other maintenance work. Personally, I hold a special role as the experience in the North Sea is in my program development. I started working with operators and with the assistant manager and now after a few months on the platform, I move alongside the manager.

A number of responsibilities assigned to me, including the daily distribution of tasks between all team members. I also make sure the maintenance of platform is performed and verify that safety rules are properly applied. I am the only French speaking worker on oil rig and the official language is Dutch. Shell is a British-Dutch company, I had to get into learning the language, but every day I mainly use English to communicate.

As Production Engineer, I must endeavor to acquire a wide range of skills to be able to talk with all in the trades sector (process, well, pipeline, tank etc..). In addition, I am in the heart of a challenge: to produce more oil and gas. I need to ensure that production is optimal, taking into account the environment, neighborhood and my colleagues. We operate in a very hostile environment where safety is a critical element. Accidents are rare today, but we must continue to remain vigilant. Gloves, helmet, goggles or safety shoes are indispensable accessories to run the oil platform.

The qualities needed

Above all, the Production Engineer must have a great open mind, essential to work in a multicultural world. He must also be versatile to adapt quickly and enjoy working in a team on a platform he shared with all his colleagues. This proximity excludes any form of selfishness. Finally, Production Engineer should be able to solve problems in a very short time and for this he must to be responsive.

In order to enter the oil platform each employee must follow so called "Offshore survival". "Offshore survival" is a safety course which allows to get to oil platform among others by helicopter.

The development of young engineer lasts five years in total and career is very flexible. For my part, I come to the end of the third year of this program and, once I have spent two years on the platform, I will have the opportunity to become head of platform with technical and management responsibilities, or working on the ground, for example by accessing the position of engineer programmer.

High growing petroleum demand give a boost to creating new platforms and hire new personnel. And not only qualified job opportunities are available, there are lots of low-skilled or even non-skilled jobs. So called entry-level jobs require no experience and are available for all healthy men wishing to work offshore.

In the news:
Greenpeace blocks the work of an oil platform in the Arctic

Greenpeace activists try again to block the operation of the oil platform Prirazlomnaja in the Pechora Sea. Their boats intercepted a Russian ship carrying employees of the platform and activists chained themselves to the anchor of the ship. The action includes 14 Greenpeace activists including its Executive Director Kumi Naidoo. Friday environmentalists have protested against the development of the Arctic continental shelf on the same platform. Climbers have climbed and stayed there for 15 hours. The oil platform Prirazlomnaja belongs to Gazprom and is the first in the world to operate in the extreme conditions of the Arctic.

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