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Large oil companies install oil rigs in order to extract natural gas and oil from deepwater deposits. Assistant drillers have the work responsibility of directing a work crew of "roughnecks" on offshore oil rigs. Roughnecks perform most of the manual labor in maintaining drilling equipment and extracting hydrocarbons. According to Oil Rig Job International, assistant drillers earn an average salary of $54,000.
The driller directly controls the rate of drilling and a skilled position that requires extensive knowledge of rock types and drilling procedures. Assistant drillers run the work crew and take information from the driller and give it to their crew. The crew consists of roughnecks, who do rough labor, and the derrickman, who works 90 feet above the rig to handle the drill pipe. While the assistant driller acts in a predominately supervisory role, they may also work alongside the roughnecks to run machinery.
According to Transocean, assistant drillers perform equipment safety checks on all drilling systems, and monitor all drilling equipment to ensure proper function. Assistant drillers assure constant well pressure and adjust machinery. For more serious maintenance issues with the drill, these professionals will report to their supervisor, who will have the problem fixed by repair crews and engineers.
Assistant drillers train roughnecks to recognize abnormal well conditions in order to prevent leaks and rig blowouts. Abnormal well conditions can include excess pressure, a reduction of the weight of the drillpipe, sedimentary deposits mixed with the oil, or changes in drilling weight. According to Transocean, assistant drillers make regular reports to a senior drilling supervisor in order to detail well conditions.
Because of the dangerous nature of oil rigs, which includes explosions, noxious fumes and high-powered machinery, assistant drillers must educate their team on all safety procedures put into place by the drilling company. This process includes running weekly safety meetings in order to come up with ways to ensure the safety of workers. These professionals may also run simulations or drills for emergency situations. Drillers may sure that roughnecks take all property safety precautions around machinery.
In the event of an emergency, assistant drillers will sound an alarm and secure all equipment. They report all accidents in the form of injury and damage reports to the senior driller. These assistants may direct oil rig evacuation procedures and will halt the movement of moving machinery. In rough weather conditions, assistant drillers will secure the drilling site until operations are resumed.
Chris Hamilton has been a writer since 2005, specializing in business and legal topics. He contributes to various websites and holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Virginia Tech.