In this guide we meet Shawn, a roughneck on a service rig operated by Great Plains Well Servicing in Brooks Alberta and learn first hand about what a roughneck’s life and job are like.
Salary: $45,000 – $85,000
Education: High School plus basic oilfield safety courses
Progression: Derrickhand, Driller, Rig Manager, Consultant
These are typical for a roughneck but will vary from company to company.
Hi, my name is Shawn and I’m a roughneck on one of Great Plains Well Servicing service rigs in Brooks Alberta. I work with a crew of four other guys, the rig manager (tool push), the rig operator (driller), a derrickman (derrickhand), and another roughneck.
Unlike a drilling rig a service rig is a small mobile operation that gets wells ready for production and services wells that have stopped flowing. We also work with other crews such as a frac crew, or a perforating unit, to enhance well production.
I just started working in the oil patch a few months ago and this has been my only job so far. So far I enjoy my job, I am making a lot of money, I have fun with my coworkers, I get to travel a lot, and there is plenty of room for advancement. Once I get a few more months experience I can become a derrickhand, and from there a driller, a tool push, and then a consultant.
My work day typically starts at around 7:00 am and lasts until around 7:00 pm. When we get to our job location (lease) we rig up our equipment and if we are already on location then I start the rigs light plant and head to the doghouse (the crew quarters). When I get inside the first thing I do is turn the heat on and make coffee. Once the coffee is brewing I get changed into my work gear.
Once the entire crew has their work gear on we hold a general safety meeting. We go over basic things to remind everyone to do their jobs safely. Once the safety meeting is over I make sure I am the first person out of the doghouse and ready to work. I start preparing all of the tools we are going to need for the day and if the derrickhand needs help getting his pump lines ready I give him a hand.
Once the rig is ready and all of our tools are prepared we hold another meeting. At this meeting we discuss what we will be doing to the well that day and talk to any other crews that will be on location performing a service.
Depending on what the oil company wants us to do to the well determines what I will be doing for the day. Sometimes I get to help run tubing in and out of the well with a large hydraulic wrench we call “tongs” and sometimes I spend entire days cleaning and repairing tools and parts.
It is very important to always be doing something, if I don’t have anything to do I talk to my driller and ask him if there is anything he wants me to do, if not I ask my derrickhand. Sometimes I spend all day scrubbing tools and the trucks.
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