Living Offshore

Most installations have self-service canteen-type catering arrangements, with a wide range of options.

Fresh food is regularly delivered to the installation by supply boat or helicopter, so things like fruit and salad are readily available.

Bread is usually baked on board and there is always a choice of at least three or four main items at each meal.

All food and beverages are provided free of charge and are often available 24 hours a day.

On most installations or rigs you will have to share a cabin with a colleague – a bit like the cabin on a large ferry – with its own wash hand basin and, often, television. Shower and toilet facilities are not always en-suite.

In addition, there are generously sized communal lounges and dining rooms with a wide range of leisure facilities including gyms, table tennis tables, satellite TV and DVD and video players.

Communication with home is excellent, with the exception of cell phone reception which is not available. The use of cellular telephones is not allowed offshore in any case for safety reasons. However, there are ample 'public' card phones and the big production platforms have broadband internet access which means that you can send and receive e-mails.

Weather conditions
Weather conditions in the North Sea, particularly in winter, can be very bad, with high winds, severe rain or snow and low temperatures. Quite a number of jobs on an installation are outdoors so, inevitably, are affected to some extent by the weather. However, high quality waterproof and warm clothing is provided and, in extremely severe conditions, the work might have to temporarily stop; for example, if it is too windy for helicopters to land then the deck landing crew will be moved to other duties.

If you are working outside, chances are you will get cold and wet on some jobs.

Smoking, drugs and alcohol
Smoking offshore is allowed but, for obvious safety reasons, only in designated areas. You are NOT allowed to take any source of ignition offshore. Matches for lighting cigarettes are provided in the designated areas.

Alcohol is completely banned on all offshore installations. Possession of alcohol could result in the Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) returning you ashore.

The use and/or possession of controlled substances offshore is illegal and most companies have a policy of random drug testing. Possession and use of controlled substances is viewed extremely seriously and you will almost certainly lose your job if you are caught taking or possessing them.

Although you will have line managers and/or supervisors to whom you report when offshore, the ultimate responsibility for the safe operation of the installation lies in the hands of the Offshore Installation Manager (OIM). He or she is very much like the captain of a ship with respect to discipline and can order you ashore for a serious breach of regulations.