On a typical rig, several companies carry out varying tasks and work together to achieve the same goal – drill an oil well. Depending on what you are looking for, oil can be found on land, shallow water or swampy areas and deep sea. How geologists found out about oil in deep seas is not so much a mystery but then again you have to doff your hats in resopect to them. One tried to explain it to me in layman’s terms by saying they simply send down ultrasound of varying wavelengths into the sea and then calculate the time it takes for the sound to get reflected by, wait for it, the different layers of soil beneath the sea and we are talking almost sometimes 4500feet below sea level and this helps them build a profile of what kind of soil it is and if there is the prospect of oil. See ehn…me too I just know its all witchcraft but it works so winch on charley!

To understand how it works, I usually use the analogy of building a house. The land on which the house is to be built or in our case, the land or portion of the sea where drilling will occur is usually owned by the oil companies. And when we say oil companies – we mean the Big 4 – Daddy Chevron, Uncle Mobil, Father Shell, Master Agip and “others”. After using their juju to discover oil in a certain place, they “arrange” with the government, proceed to contract someone to drill the well or using my analogy build the house. This is where a drilling company who owns a drilling rig comes into the mix. Several rigs exist of course depending on the drilling location. The contractor who has the machines, personnel and ability to build the house comes to your site and sets up shop. In this field of contractors with rigs are several companies – Transocean, Ensco, Sea Drill, Pacific Drilling to name a few. Also, because the owner of the house, i.e. the oil company realizes that this house he wants to build is not just any type of house, it is complicated. He needs other specialized services to do certain jobs. The owner of the house then employs certain hands who carry out specialized services or in certain cases guides the contractor’s personnel, in building the house. Using our house analogy, he hires specialized hands like architects, lighting designers, a painting expert who knows how to paint a house such that it shines yellow during the day and glows red at night or a camera man who goes round filming people building the house, etc.

I tell you there are myriad of services out there needed in the process of oil drilling. These guys are your oil servicing companies – Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Weatherford amongst many others providing several services working together with the drilling company and their personnel to deliver a well.

The rig is a community of its own where you meet different people, from different companies and they become family away from home, especially if you are on a frequent rotation on that particular rig. A rotation is how long you get to spend at work (be it on a land rig or deep sea like some of us). Some people are on a 2week rotation (which is two weeks on, two weeks off working the rig). Some are on a month rotation. Some who work on sailing ships are sometimes on 4month on, 1 month off rotation, while some others have no rotation and work at the base in town till they are called to the rig and spend as much time as the job for which they are called requires, and when they are done, resume their 9-5 jobs in town. These are usually service personnel though, that is people who work for oil servicing companies.

Brother/sister no vex if this reads like a lecture but it is necessary I spend a lot of time explaining so I can carry on in later entries with the knowledge that you completely understand.

I’ll end this entry here before it gets too long. I just closed shift and sleep full my eye.

My name is Uncle Stephen and this is my diary..

Author’s Bio – Stephen Eke who prefers to be called Uncle Stephen is an engineer most times working off an offshore rig in far-flung places in Nigeria but pens humorous stories about life, love, work, family and God sometimes on his blog, homeofhumor.com when his supervisor isn’t watching and his village people untie his muse.