Spring break-up: What is it and what does it mean for rig crews?

Trinidad Drilling rig hand

College students get spring break. Roughnecks have spring break-up.

Many Canadian rig crews head back to work in June after enjoying some time off in the spring. If you are new to the drilling industry or you work in a warmer climate, you may not be familiar with the term “spring break-up.” That’s OK because Bradey Benoit, Rig Manager of Trinidad Rig 6, has 16 years of drilling in Canada under his belt and volunteered to help us explain what spring break-up means.

What is break-up?

As Western Canada thaws out in the spring, frost comes out of the ground and softens roads. Provincial governments and rural municipalities (or counties) ban heavy equipment from roads to prevent damage. These restrictions are called road bans.

“We are not allowed onto the roads, so we can’t move our rigs to different locations,” said Benoit, whose rig operates in northern Alberta/Saskatchewan and moves every three to four days when it’s drilling.

Many rigs have to shut down until road bans are lifted. Companies use this down time to bring rigs into the shop and perform maintenance.

Spring break-up can mean extra time off for workers in the field. Benoit explained that some members of his crew go home to work on their farms; he likes to spend time with his kids.

How long does it last?

Break-up usually occurs during April and May, but the length of time rigs are racked is “100 per cent dependent on the weather.” Benoit explained that a winter with little snow and warm temperatures could mean a shorter break in the spring. A winter with cold temperatures and a lot of precipitation could mean a longer break-up because frost is deep in the ground.

Do all rigs shut down?

Spring break-up does not affect all of our rigs because some have technology that allows them to drill through break-up.

“On some of the bigger rigs, they can work right through break-up because they’ll be on a pad where they can just move to the next hole. They don’t have to go on government highways or county roads,” explained Benoit, who added that sometimes members of his crew who want to work during break-up join these bigger Trinidad rigs while Rig 6 is off.

Read more about the advantages of our modern fleet here.

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For Benoit, the time off during break-up and during his regular rotation (two weeks on, one week off) is a big reason he chooses to work in the drilling business.

“My wife and I, we love travelling,” he said. “If we’ve got a week off, we’ll pick up and we’ll head down to the Dominican (Republic) for a week.”

If high income with time off is a lifestyle that appeals to you, check out these reasons you’ll want to join our team and then submit your application.

Want to learn more about the language we use in the drilling biz? Check out this post:

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