For a a few hardy, industrious men a 2,000 foot high metal behemoth of a rig in the Gulf of Mexico is home; well two weeks out of every four, that is. They work, sleep and relax aboard the Petronius oil platform, operated by Marathon Oil and the Chevron corporation.
The Petronius is one of the most mindboggling of all the giant oil platforms scattered across the oceans of the world. Named for the Roman writer it was the world’s tallest free standing structure until 2008 when it was suppassed by the Burj Dubai. The platform serves 14 different wells outputting millions of barrels of oil. At over 500 million dollars the Petronius is one of the most expensive offshore civil construction projects in the world
Working aboard the rig is one the most hazardous jobs there is. Oil rigs are usually dozens or hundreds of miles from land and bear the brunt of some of the harshest weather that mother nature unleashes. Rocked and rolled by waves, ripped at by gales and frozen by bitter cold – these are just some of the natural hazards an oil rig is subjected to. For the average rig worker the man-made dangers can be even more of a threat. Swinging cranes, the constant moving of heavy equipment, dangerous power tools which can rend a limb from a body in a second and being only a short drop from near certain death into an ocean seventy five metres below take more than a few lives each year.
So what attracts men to work far out at sea, living in cramped quarters of up to four to a room in one of the most hazardous jobs in the world? Well one thing is the money. On the Petronius salaries start at about $50k a year, which is a great starting salary for relatively unskilled work. Those with trade qualifications and skills, and those with several years of experience can command six figure salaries.
Another draw to oil rig jobs is the generous time off. Workers aboard the Petronius work a two weeks on, two weeks off schedule. This means that they typically work less than six months of the year and still earn a very competitive wage. While they are on board the Petronius the oil rig workers are also more than amply fed, noshing down on four hearty meals a day, all of which are included in their compensation package. Recreation facilities on the ‘floating town’ also include a gym and satellite TV to fill the few hours that the men are not hard at work. These oil rig jobs are tough, but they aren’t without their own rewards.
Even though this work is noisy, in a remote location and the work conditions are high risk, employment aboard the Petronius and other oil platforms still has a huge draw for a certain kind of man. Tough, resilient, hardworking and perhaps slightly thrilled by the threat of danger there is a constant stream of hardy men applying for these jobs. Although they work hard aboard the rig, most of them more than make up for it in their time off. If you have ever seen a rig worker on his frequent leave, you will know that they know how to ‘unwind’ in style.