Rig Life

Rig Pad from the plane.
I have been working and living on rig sites for two years. Traveling from one location to the next in the northeastern part of the US has lent me many new opportunities to meet and see a wide variety of people and things. So I am going to try and give you a little glimpse of being a female in this male dominated environment and what life is like on a land rig in general.

Ninety percent of the time I am the only female on location. That is about a 30:1 ratio. However, on one rare occasion I ended up on a rig with four women out there. This was pretty cool and the women who work out here tend to be a special kind of awesome. This particular rig had a roughneck/motorman who was a teenager. She chose to work on a rig before attending college because she hadn't made up her mind on what to study. A middle aged woman who ran the excavator at night and was new to the industry. An older woman who was the mud logger and seemed super badass while baking superb brownies. Each of us working different jobs has a slightly different insight to the industry and this sight is just my particular experience. 

The most often asked question I get is about harassment. How much are you harassed or have you ever had any problems. I have read articles about how filthy and vulgar oil workers can be and just dragged a whole group of hard working men's names through the mud. I am under no deliusion that guys are sweet little angels 100% of the time and that there is always a bad apple somewhere, but the vast majority of these men take pride in acting like gentleman when a woman is around and are just counting down they days until they get to go back to their families. 

The most annoying thing I have to deal with is assuring people on every new rig I go to that it is not necessary to walk on glass around me. I have guys left and right apologize for saying a four letter word that reached my ears or just don't talk in front of me at all for fear of offending me. My usual response is to assure them that saying shit isn't going to affect my delicate sensibilities and to not worry.  Usually they relax a bit and become more at ease but I got a surprising reply one time. This roughneck looked me in the eye and said "I'm not gonna do it again because my mamma taught me how to act around ladies and I take pride in that."

So that is the majority of my experiences going to a new rig. I have to assure the men that I cool and I don't bite. 

As a MWD I work with 3 other people from my company and we live in a small mobile home of sorts that usually contains an office, small kitchen/living room and two bedrooms with bunk beds. The rooms are shared with your relief. With 12 hour shifts each the rooms are single occupants. This however can very from region to region. Sometimes you get lucky and work with some cool guys who get along and cook meals together and other times it is each his own and little talk outside of work. The latter usually makes for miserable living conditions so I try avoid those rigs as much as possible.

Working 12 hour shifts can be tedious at times and with no guaranteed time off outside of vacation it can get wearisome living and working in the same place for weeks on end. The longest time I have worked straight was about 12 weeks. I have worked with others who have gone longer than that without getting to go home. Every now and then however you get lucky and get some time off between wells. This is when I take the time to explore the area and do new things. Usually I will find someone else on the rig who is also off and so we can go exploring together. Most recently, one of the directional drillers I work with is also a pilot so we took a plane up and took some pictures of the rig from up above. We also found a small attraction that boasted a boat ride through a cave and wild life reserve.

Well I come to realize I haven't really said a whole lot about life on a rig but I guess it is a start. I will think of more things later hopefully.