The extraction of oil from beneath the ground is a process that has been practised, honed and improved over more than 150 years of exploration and production.
It is not known for certain when the first oil producing well was drilled or produced its oil, but one of the first was the Drake oil well in the Cherrytree Township, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The well depth was less than 70 feet and it was drilled in 1859.
Since then, companies such as Mobil, Shell, Q8 and Fuchs have all been inspired to push the envelope of technology in order to extract oil from deeper, hotter and higher pressure wells around the world. From 1959 to the present day, there remains one vital factor in the extraction process and that is the skill and expertise of the rig workers who rely on the industry to make a living.
The rigours of rigs
Working on an offshore oil rig continues to be a dangerous occupation, although working conditions and safety has improved greatly through the years. Roles on a rig vary from welders and cooks, to the more specialist professions of drillers and logging engineers. Regardless of the title, each man and woman on board a rig performs a vital role to ensure that oil wells are drilled, completed, and produced in the safest possible manner, and in the most cost effective way.
A nonstop process
Working offshore in the UK continental shelf region begins with a helicopter flight, which can range from 30 minutes to more than three hours. This journey will be repeated on the return trip usually two or three weeks later. Each working day is 12 hours long, with work continuing day and night no matter what the weather is, or what holiday it may be.
The next time you fill up your car or buy a lubricant, spare a thought for the workers who spend half their year on an oil rig to ensure that the industry and the world keeps moving.