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Offshore Oil & Gas grime STINKS !!

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:06 am
by launchit0
Hi All,

First of all forgive me because I am going to RANT :evil:

If you work offshore i am sure some of what i said will probably encourage you to post a reply back explaining about how cultured "your" rig is and how you are the shining beacon of QHSE in the offshore industry....know this.....i have heard it over and over for the the last 24 years, so you just keep telling yourself that, you are the greatest, good job!!

I come from a labour intensive background working in offshore support, for most of my life I have chased wires and been chased by them, I have shifted more rigs than I care to remember, since the age of 16 I have dangled from ropes and crawled round confined spaces, I have been involved in operations pumping some of the most horrendous chemicals and accelerants you could think off while working international with multinational crews where English was not the first language.

Fate or luck I’m not sure which led me into a Safety career, a Director from head office was visiting our vessel down in West Africa and seen my passion for instruction and training, next thing I know I get a phone call asking me if I would like to do what I was doing but on a fleet wide basis, of course I said yes, and that’s how it started.

The first year was fantastic, I had a blank canvas and was able to create a training structure that could be used fleet wide, and it wasn’t to long before other departments within our company started to see the value of what we were doing. The role developed and after a few short years we had built up a small team under one of the best HSE managers I have ever worked with, he also had come from a hands on background and was extremely savvy in both the administrative and practical sides of the job.

There was no base qualification required for the position but after a while I started to make noises to the company about how beneficial it would be to have a NEBOSH qualified trainer. They did not fall for it so I decided to pay for myself to do the qualification, with very young kids and the usual “life” bills and taxes to pay it was not easy getting the money together, regardless of what you think not all offshore work is well paid, its only actually good if you work on the Rig NOT on the vessels that support them. I was working a rotational leave of 6 weeks on 4 weeks off, so getting the money together meant working while I was on leave, I kept telling myself, it will be worth it!

It took me a while but with a combination of a loan of parents and saved money I sat the 10 day block NEBOSH Gen cert course, and as most probably did reading this Health & Safety for beginners members were a massive help. After the longest time ever I received my results, I passed. I had a lot of self doubt as I left school with absolutely no qualifications at all so this was a big step for me! And it didn’t end there. As a result of the qualification I now found myself being promoted and given responsibility of my team and fleet wide audits.

This is where the crunch came for me, i could not afford to take the time off for completing the NEBOSH diploma so I started the NVQ 4 in occupational health & safety, after completing my first 2 assignments the NVQ5 Diploma was created so I took the leap and advanced to level 5, and then a whole host of other teaching related qualifications in the following months and years.

Now things were going great at work, I was carrying out high level talks to clients and also impacting presentations at seminars attended by the upper echelons of the oil industry. It wasn’t long before the odd email came through offering me work and then the outright proposals from companies wanting me to come work for them, the temptation of film star wages was to much and I took the plunge. By now I was earning a comfortable wage and for the first time ever I was able to take the family on holiday that didn’t involve the train, a blanket and a picnic, and now with roughly 8 years experience behind me and going to the rigs, it was going to get a whole lot better...... or so I thought.

The first rig I worked on was a Deepwater Drill Ship; it was amazing there was so much to take in it was almost overwhelming. I did not notice it at first but after a couple of weeks I slowly started getting that niggling feeling, why was everyone so closed up when I tried speaking to them?, I mean not like that first awkward time you meet someone and you try to strike a common ground, this was blatant outright arrogance, and those that did talk to you would only talk when there was nobody around, you would see them again in the coffee shop a little while after having an in-depth conversation about football and they wouldn’t even make eye contact with you. “First hitch” I told myself “people will warm to you”, a year later and “some” did but others were just outright obnoxious and rude, it was like working with a bunch of 5 year olds, a bunch of outrageously paid 5 year olds, and to a degree it was actively encouraged by their supervisors.

The money and conditions were excellent, I had started off on nights, which with “this” company was considered to be a lower rank than the day shift safety officer, regardless the money was double what i was getting paid in my last job and even with putting up with “some” of the crews childish arrogance i tried to justify it to myself. Unfortunately though I was only kidding myself, the place was a cess pit of arrogance and greed, a bunch of self righteous over opinionated morons. My development in training stopped, it was like going back 15 years, the awareness training the company provided was very basic and weak and to be honest, nobody was interested in the slightest; the safety officers would sit a trainee down in front of a training computer and leave them to it. It was shambolic, I even had training sheets come back with pictures drawn on them and snot rubbed over them, they say little things amuse small minds; well this cemented it for me.

Why was this culture and mindset like this, I asked myself over and over again, “I am going to change things”, well I didn’t get very far, any proposal or recommendation was hit with sometimes an explosive response swearing and shouting stamping feet and so on, I learned this is a typical response in the oil industry, the “don’t do as I do, do as I say” mentality. Then an opportunity come along for a day shift position, let me perfectly clear about this, I did not consider moving to days a promotion the job was exactly the same its just you went home feeling “Normal” and not like a zombie for the first week of leave. I applied for the position but it was given to another chap from another rig, in my opinion very under qualified (did not hold diploma qualification) and experienced (had been a safety officer for 2 years), but like so many others carried that air of arrogance that comes with “most” offshore workers. I started noticing him taking credit for things that I had done, any opportunity he could he would take credit for my work passing it off as his own, our working relationship broke down and it got to the point I would just give him a blank expression at handover which usually consisted of him telling me how much he had achieved through the day when I knew in fact that he had done SWEET F/A.

Did i mention the money? Yes? Well did I mention the safety awards? NO?

The company monthly budget per rig was obscene and sickening, we were giving out IPads and watches, mobile phones and cash prizes EVERY single week, the prizes were awarded to the crew at the weekly safety meeting, and they were given as stop card (Hazz observation) incentive. Believe me when I say this, 99% of the cards that come across my desk were absolute rubbish, fabricated nonsense, it turned my stomach to see these absolute morons who would spend their shift laughing at their co-workers constant flatulence, half of them could not even string a sentence together let alone write an observation card, yet here they were smiling for the camera, the kind of childlike smile that can only be pulled off by a grown up if they are a Hollywood actor or a complete and utter idiot, it was ridiculous.

Then there is the LTI (lost Time Incident) Award, an LTI was classed as someone being taken from the rig on medical grounds and not being fit to return to the rig on account of their injuries for 7 consecutive days. If you go 12 months incident was laughing!!!!!! Ipads and Rolex watches all round, I am not joking, not one bit! The best one i have seen was a serious medivac (helicopter medical evacuation), crew member had been struck by an object of great weight he sustained deep tissue injuries requiring stitches, broken collar bone. LTI you may scream, THIS WAS AN L.T.I !!

They said because the guy was fit to work in the office they brought him up to head office and sat him in a chair until his trip ended a week later, for 1 week that man had to go sit in a chair for 8 hours, out of his face on Morphine so they could retain their LTI Free record.

It makes me sick to think about it.

Again and again day shift positions passed me by, I asked and was told “Erm you need the NEBOSH Diploma to be on days, I told them I had the equivalent Diploma qualification which to be honest didn’t even register with them as our department didn’t seem to have the slightest clue about what HSE qualifications actually were, all they knew was NEBOSH NEBOSH NEBOSH. I also tried explaining to them that people who had just been promoted did not hold the diploma level only the General Certificate so how come they got promoted?......then i came to my senses, a mother in law here, a friend in purchasing there, a cousins best friend of an aunty who lives in the same village, these were the credentials you needed to get ahead in the oil industry, not a lifetime spent on the deck learning the real hazards of the trade face to face.

Non of these guys had had to go out and borrow money to get a qualification to better themselves, the company paid for everything and i mean EVERYTHING. Most of the safety officers I worked with would literarily have an absolute fit if they got their hands dirty. And most of all, the overriding character trait you absolutely must have in the oil industry is, to know who your master is, shower him (yes it’s always a him and never a her, not in the oil industry those are jobs for the boys) and you must please them by throwing others crew members under the bus any way you can.

My days offshore had come to an end, I could not stomach it anymore, regardless of the superstar wages I kept my life simple, I invested my money smartly, and still at a fairly young age I don’t have to worry about it so much anymore. Unlike some of the elite of the offshore drilling world who seem hell bent on making sure every penny they earn is spent via massive mortgages, brand new Range Rovers, flash holidays to Vegas 4 times a year. Of course the oil slump come as a shock to a lot of them, unlike them I had lived in the real world and had personally been made redundant twice. Unfortunately for them the world smelled of fresh paint and the cash machine just never, ever stopped giving, until the oil price tanked.

I have met a lot of good decent people in the oil & gas industry throughout the various companies and rigs I have worked on, but the majority, well I think I have said enough.

The same could be said for the safety officers I worked with, some good but most have a complete lack of ANY imagination or empathy, a “learning opportunity” after an incident for most of them is how quickly they can blame someone and get them sacked. As long as you can read “to some degree” and you would rather see someone get the bullet than help them not to make the same mistake again then you have a bright future ahead of you in the oil industry.

I can honestly say I would never go back, but maybe that’s just my own little bit of arrogance because I don’t need to.

If you do decide in a career offshore, make sure you get out before the money holds you, it isn’t worth it, take it from me.

Re: Offshore Oil & Gas grime STINKS !!

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:16 am
by David68
An excellent read. Thank you

Re: Offshore Oil & Gas grime STINKS !!

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:53 pm
by Alexis
I can see this applying to many industries Launchit.

The Auntie, Granny, Cousin syndrome is applicable in many working areas. I have experienced this in the past.

Good on you for surviving and moving on. .salut

Re: Offshore Oil & Gas grime STINKS !!

Posted: Mon Jul 08, 2019 3:01 pm
by Smudger207
Hi Launchit,

As someone who currently works in the offshore arena I feel its my duty to retort.

Yes who may have had a miserable time of it and yes you may have been unlucky with the company you chose to work for. However not Oil & Gas companies operate in this manner or have personnel who speak to people like you described.

I am not going to sit here and say the company I work for is perfect but tarring all O&G companies under the same brush isnt factually correct.

As for nepotism etc, as Alexis says this happens all over, its not solely related to the offshore environment

Good luck in your HSE future

Re: Offshore Oil & Gas grime STINKS !!

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:20 am
by launchit0
Hey Smudger,

Good Job !!

Best of luck to you also, i think you may need it more than i do :lol:

Re: Offshore Oil & Gas grime STINKS !!

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:27 pm
by ScottD
Hi launchit,

I don't know how many people on here can honestly say that their company ethics are geared towards an H&S Nirvana.
A lot of companies certainly talk the talk, but in reality, "HSE does not make the company profit, operations do" is the actual mantra.

I did once work for a company which had a President who, when he was a site manager, had a fatality on his watch and he personally took this to heart and as he worked his way up to becoming president, made sure everyone below him had a safety hat on.

Projects were budgeted to include HSE and continual improvements and it paid off. There were 1 hr clean up time in the workplace every week, management visiting the shop floor discussing safety weekly, daily meetings to discuss what was going on and honest conversations, and he personally emailed site managers if the corrective actions raised on the database were open longer than 30 days.

That was a dream job, and one where I always refer back to. The reality is that I doubt that I will get another job like it.