The #1 Tip to Working on an Oil Rig

If there’s one thing you need to bring, it is this.

Decommissioned rigs in the Cromarty Firth

I never really realised just how different an oil rig was as a place to work until a conversation in the pub, but we’ll come to that in a sec.

I spent two years offshore as my first ‘proper’ job, in both rigs and boats. I’ve worked in many places before and since — on industrial estates, in a shop, on a golf course. Security work, opinion polling in a call centre, data entry for a credit agency. I’ve cut lawns, ran my own music studio, worked in an open plan office as a commissioning editor for a publishing company. I’ve worked at home for a company based 5,000 miles away. So all these places are different. But not one of them, no matter how basic, needed the same thing that an oil rig did.

There’s not a lot to do on an oil rig. One man I knew devoured historical trivia, to aid his pub quiz hobby onshore. Some played cards. Most sat around watching whatever film was on in the video room. I used to pace around the helipad as if it were a prison yard. But there was one constant — cabins were always communal. If I was lucky, I got my own bed. But sometimes I had to share (not actually at the same time! We worked opposite 12 hour shifts).

Anyway in the pub, the conversation got round to disgusting things at work.

“Have you ever shagged a co-worker? What about doing it, actually in the office?” a prurient pal leered at our mixed sex group and discussion, not all of it honest, raged. But that was just ground-floor level stuff. Now we were warmed up, he could get really personal. He leaned in.

“What about this — have you ever wanked at work?”

“Of course,” I replied, absent-mindedly.

The group recoiled.

“Oh no! Let me clarify — I worked on an oil rig.”

The group relaxed. A month at sea without a woman! Well, it’s only human nature.

So you came to this article for some advice. OK, here it is. And I learned it the hard way from laying my head where some other guy had been. If you are ever going to work on an oil rig?

Take your own pillow.