This is a good time to find employment on oil rigs. Despite some recent reversals (the 2009 recession and the early-2010 Deepwater Horizon sinking), the demand for workers on oil rigs is continuing to grow. Although governments and economists are warning of a fragile recovery, the price of oil is already hovering at $70 per barrel in mid-2010.
Despite being a far cry from the peak of $140 per barrel in 2008, this is quite sufficient to drive investment in new oil wells by oil companies (oil needs to sell for $30 to $40 per barrel before oil companies are willing to drill new oil fields). That means employment on oil rigs is set to grow.
You may be wondering where to find jobs on oil rigs. The best places are newer oil fields which have a long term future. In the US, this is mainly the deep water oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. In Canada, it would be the Sasketchawan and Alberta oil rigs.
For American oil workers, there is great advantage in working on offshore oil rigs. Besides the better long term opportunities, it is possible to claim tax breaks (both federal and state level) for employment on these oil rigs as they are often located in international waters. Of course, you need to consult with a qualified accountant or tax lawyer for the details. It may also be possible to claim for transportation costs between home and heliport as well as equipment costs (e.g. boots and hardhat).
Note that Americans moving to Canada to find oil rig employment and vice versa should adapt to differences in job title and licensing requirements. An American oil rig roughneck is a Canadian floorhand, while an American oil rig roustabout is a Canadian leasehand. A Canadian roughneck is a highly qualified worker, roughly the equivalent of a motorhand, derrick hand or driller in the US.
In terms of qualifications, a Canadian oil worker needs to have the H2S Alive (hydrogen sulfide safety) and first aid certifications before he can get a job on an oil rig. In contrast, offshore employment on (US) Gulf oil rigs usually require the HUET (helicopter underwater escape training), first aid and firefighting certifications.
Job schedules also vary between the US Gulf and Canada (Alberta). Although oil rigs operate 24-hours a day and workers have to work 12-hour shifts, many US workers on offshore oil rigs work on a 2 weeks on/2 weeks off rotation or 3 weeks on/2 weeks off rotation. On the other hand, Canadian oil workers usually have a 2 week on/1 week off rotation. Oil rig employment in the Gulf tends to slow down in the hurricane season (June – November), whereas in northern Canada the strongest surge of employment on oil rigs is in winter (November – March).
The world runs on oil and demand will continue to grow as the economies of China, India and Asia become more developed. There will be more and more opportunities for employment on oil rigs both now and in the future. Add the fact that work on oil fields pay well and you can see that the future is bright for workers in the oil and gas industry.
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