pipe welding and oil rigs

Hi I am a student at a vocational school and I take welding and am
interested in pipe welding on a oil rig and was wondering if anyone had
any infromation on what that would be like as far as day to day
activites any reply or sugestions would be most welcome.
Reply to
frodo
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It would greatly depend on where the oil rig is and what time of year it is. Also the likelihood of welding "on" a rig would be limited. The welding could be repairs to heavy equipment, or welding of short supply lines of smaller diameters. There is some sort of rule that says oil rigs never come closer than 100 miles from your place of residence. Oil rigs often run 24-7 so you are away from home for periods of time. Someone fresh out of school would not have the tickets to walk straight into critical pipe work. Randy
Hi I am a student at a vocational school and I take welding and am interested in pipe welding on a oil rig and was wondering if anyone had any infromation on what that would be like as far as day to day activites any reply or sugestions would be most welcome.
Reply to
R. Zimmerman
Been there, done that, got the International Society of Oifield Trash T-shirt. I worked offshore for about eight years total. I was a diver tender, diver, welder, and crane operator in my years of service. I worked off barges, boats and platforms.
As to what a daily routine is like, if all depends on what you are doing. The job might be setting up. Tearing down. Drilling. In production. Repairing. Salvage. And all sorts of other things.
Work days are 12 hours on, 12 hours off. You get up about 1 to 1 1/2 hours before your shift. You get dressed, eat, and go to work. Sometimes workdays last as long as 48 hours. You get off, shower, eat, and go to bed. You might have time to play cards, ping pong, or watch TV if you are in a place where you can get TV reception. My longest hitch in the Gulf of Mexico was 118 days straight, 3 days off, 90 days straight, one day off, 30 days on. Four days off in 238 days.
You might live on a boat, in a doghouse on a platform, or on a barge. Living conditions are cramped. It is noisy. It is smelly. Everything you touch, generally is dirty or oily. Your doghouse might be fresh from the factory or twenty years old. I have lived in doghouses that were identical to walk in freezers right down to the door handles, insulation, and hinges. They were actually nice because they were protected against the weather, and were quiet inside except for vibration. Sometimes you need earplugs to be able sleep, and if you work in the industry very long, will suffer permanent hearing loss. Accidents are common, and hopefully you don't suffer one that will take you completely out. It's like being a professional football player. You go out every day and play hard with bruises, strains, and all. And you keep your mouth shut because the guys will smack you where you hurt if you are a whiner.
If you are in a foreign country, your travel and activities may be governed/hampered/affected by local politics, bandits, tribesmen, cultures, religious beliefs and customs. Sometimes it is just like being in jail. Every day the same as before, a miniculture all to itself. You may be restricted to quarters. It may be 130 or 30 below outside. Food may be local and include things you have only seen dead on the side of the road. Safety may be an issue, and you will see kids 13 years old carrying an AK47. You can be publicly beaten with a wet cane for violating customs, so need to be watchful and observant and informed.
Food ranges from terrible to excellent. No standards in that department.
You live in a room with 3 to five other men. You get a bunk, a locker, a couple of coat hooks, and a drawer. That's in a good doghouse.
You are lucky if you get to use a phone, and if you do, it is usually very expensive. Lots of platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have company lines, and you can use them for free after hours or during quiet times. That's the exception.
As to the work, as others have said, you have to be a very good welder to go out. You are welding on critical connections that can cause catastrophic damage if they fail. There's no time and no one to teach you, and not much that's noncritical to practice on, so you need to know before you get there.
Start up the ladder from school. If you really want to go to the rigs, or to overseas work, make each choice along the way one that will further that goal. Welding teachers, and personnel directors can be helpful in this regard.
Overseas work is very good, usually starting at $100k per year for contract work. A contract is just that. You don't finish the year, you don't get as much money. Taxes are a pretty good break, or were when I worked, the first $90k being tax exempt. Sometimes, you go and stay until the job finishes or you go crazy, whichever comes first. Other times, they will fly you back and forth with 28 days on, 28 days off. You get a hefty airline allowance. You get it if you go back stateside or not. Guys would team up and rent places in Greece, France, Spain, and various countries and locations near the work location. Then they would timeshare with others so that they would spend less of their travel allotment per month, and get to spend off time in various countries. They got 28 days off in a foreign country, had some jingle in their pockets, and in many cases, had money left over.
Pipeline welding is about as boring as you can get. Stand in the same old place every day and do the same thing. AND, you better do it good, because if you have one repair or cutout too many, pack your bags. And you might be standing in seawater washing your ankles all day. Or out in the cold. Same old same old every day. A connection, an elbow, or a tee is a genuine departure from joint to joint connections. And I'm talking about what might be miles and miles and miles of pipe. If you are doing hookup, you need to KNOW inside and out how to tee, branch, saddle, cut and fit pipe, and be good at it. You need to be half McGiver, finding solutions to situations where time is money and solution finders are a valued hand that will be asked for by name on the next job. There's TONS of competition nowadays, not like it was during the boom years of the seventies.
It is a spartan existence. You need to be good to get there. You need to be focused to stay there. You need to eat, sleep, and work with some people you would never ever associate with "on the beach." 24/7 It is harsh. It is dirty. It is noisy. It is dangerous. You WILL get paid time for bad weather days, moving locations, or other special circumstances, but not a lot. It is mostly hard, dangerous, dirty work.
But I wouldn't trade any of it I did. It was high adventure. It was dull. It was terrifying. It was unrewarding. It was gratifying. It was all things. I did it from age 25 to age 34 (roughly).
This is America. You can do anything you want if you want it bad enough, and are good enough to make the cut. Don't let anyone piss on your parade. Go for it, and don't quit until you make it, or wash out and know you gave it your all.
But, it's like showbiz. It ain't all glitz and glory. There's a lot of tears, blood and warts under all that makeup and publicity.
Steve - Ex He02 diver, SurD02 Diver, OPI certified rigger, crane operator for Reading and Bates Drilling Corporation, AWS certified 6g welder, and passed quite a few yard qualifying coupon pulling bending nick break tests. And lots of days just being a grunt.
Reply to
Steve B
Being a Pipeline Welder, I have to disagree with that 100%.
JTMcC.
Reply to
JTMcC
Just MHO from what I observed. Your comments, observations, and experience welcomed.
Steve
Reply to
Steve B
The pipeline welding I observed was mostly offshore. It was done on barges. We winched ahead, and there was a lot of time spent moving and doing a lot of other things other than welding. I can see that land pipelining would be very different.
I did get to spend about four months alongside the Brown and Root BAR 282, at that time, the largest ocean going lay barge in the world. They were laying a large concrete coated line, and they used bulldozer treads to move the line along the deck, and keep it clamped to the barge. We were doing the inspection work behind it. Work on the BAR 282 was in no way comparable to the much smaller lay barges I was accustomed to working on.
There's lots of different pipelining. Most of what I have experience with was slow tedious work.
On the Bannister Week's Island Strategic Salt Dome Reserve project I was on, the pipe was also layed off barges with bulldozer tread to advance the pipe. But the barge stayed stationary, and the pipe was forced off the deck and down the predug ditch. Not a lot of winching. Hardly any at all. Occasionally had to move locations of the barge. There was a lot of automated welding, and a lot of cutouts, the tie-ins being hand welded. Again, a lot of standing around time. Getting things lined up. Getting ready to weld.
I am not sure which of my points you disagree with, as you didn't specify. But from my experience and observations, welding amounts only to a fraction of the time it takes to pipeline. It is the lynchpin in the whole deal, but timewise, it is small, and (to me) not terribly exciting.
YMMV
Steve
Reply to
Steve B
Pretty good post, and echos my own stretch in the oil patch (not as a weldor) but in many of the same places/conditions
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
Reply to
Gunner Asch
"Gunner Asch" wrote
Thank yewwwwwwwwww verrrrrrrrrrry much!
Where did you work, and what did you do? It is amazing how I meet people that I worked very near, or in the same line of work.
I had a brother who was adopted out by my carousing mother. We never knew he existed. He found the family in 1990. Come to find out, we lived about a mile apart during the Seventies while both working in the Louisiana/Texas oilfields.
It's a small world. Remarkably small.
Steve
Reply to
Steve B
I worked derrick and floor for Cactus Drilling for a number of years, both CONUS and North Slope, worked even more years doodlebugging for both Western and Bendix Geophyical, Northslope, 39 states Conus, including bayou rigs in Lousiana. Spend some time offshore in the Gulf, some doodlebug time in Africa, and then moved permanantly to California, and went to working on bullshit rigs in the Central Valley. Hoppers, Oilwell Service, the usual. Gin poles and doubles doing workovers etc. I got hurt by a drunk/doped break weight in 1981, and left the industry completly. I thought about going back to drilling rigs in 83, hired on, walked out on the end of the catwalk to look around..and the derrick hand dropped the ass end of a roach at my feet. I looked down at that...decided I didnt want to work with anymore pot heads, and got in the pickup and never looked back. Shrug.
When I got out of RVN in 73, I had a bad case of itchy feet..so lived out of a suitcase for those years. Got that out of my system but it took a while. Somewhere in there, I managed to become a reserve deputy sherriff for a couple years too..and working on rigs with guys Id busted for beating their wives the night before made for interesting work experiences.
Least I have all my fingers and toes..though it took me 4 yrs before I could shoot a bow and arrow again and I can still tell when its gonna rain.
Shrug...shit happens. If Id had it to do all over again...Id have gone back to school..but that wanderlust/jazz thingy was pretty hard to deal with.
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
Reply to
Gunner Asch
"Gunner Asch" wrote
Ever know a hardass tool pusher named "Blondie" that worked for Cactus?
Don't you love board roads and water moccasins?
I got hurt by a drunk/doped break weight in
Lots of stupid people working out there that have no business there.
I thought about going back to
I went back in 95, and worked a year or so in So. La., and a couple of hitches in Nigeria. But, as you said, either me or the industry had changed. When I left, I knew it was over.
I had a few injuries, and operations. Nothing terrible, but did see a couple of guys lose fingers. I can no longer draw a bow, and have had three shoulder operations from old injuries that happened back when.
For me, it was just an extension of my recovery from my childhood. If I knew then what I know NOW, I, too would have opted for riding a desk. But, if I HAD gone to school then, I know in my heart of hearts I wouldn't have made the grades, and wouldn't have gotten much out of it. The wanderlust/adventure thing was a time for me to grow up and learn the ways of the world. Something my old man failed to teach me.
Steve, who likes to wear his International Society of Oilfield Trash highly polished brass buckle.
Reply to
Steve B
Too many years ago. I remember Blackie..a big, ugly bad tempered half breed pusher who always left a pretty decent sized pile of Johnny Walker Black bottles behind his trailer whenever we rigged down. Chewed Redman..never spit.
Specially cleaning the screens in the mud pits and having to flail around with a shovel killing mocs. I got pretty good at running them downhole by pushing them down into the pump intake. Never did plug a bit that I knew of. That long trip through the Gardner Denvers, down the kelly and out the bit tenderized em a bit.
Indeed.
Yup. I wore out way too many boots, and put that hard hat on backwards way too many times.
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
Reply to
Gunner Asch
I honestly wouldn't know where to start.
JTMcC.
Reply to
JTMcC

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