Of all the crew members on a rig, the Derrickhand position is probably the most well known because the Derrickhand climbs the rig’s derrick to work on a platform usually 25 metres above the rig floor.
“I’m the guy who has to put the belt on. Anytime there is something (to be done) up high, I put the belt on and go up the derrick,” said Larince Yewchuk, a Derrickhand on Trinidad Rig 2, referring to the safety harness Trinidad’s hands must wear while working at a height over three metres.
Yewchuk, whose rig operates mostly in southern Alberta, talked to us about what it is like to be a Derrickhand.
A Derrickhand’s day:
Yewchuk, who has been with Trinidad for almost all of his seven year drilling career, works two weeks and then has one week off.
His day usually starts at 7 a.m. with safety meetings. He gets updated on rig operations, and then Yewchuk gets to work.
Here are a few of Yewchuk’s responsibilities:
1. He stacks and guides pipe as it is tripped in and out or reconnected into the hole (this is where the climbing comes in).
When the rig crew is tripping pipe, Yewchuk can be up on the monkeyboard for a full 12-hour shift. This time in the derrick is Yewchuk’s favourite part of his job. After all, the higher you climb, the better the view.
“It’s always kind of cool,” he said. “You see what’s around you.”
Although the Derrickhand position is named after the work done in the rig’s derrick, only about 25 per cent of a Derrickhand’s time is spent up there.
2. He is responsible for the drilling fluid (mixing mud) and maintains the circulation machinery (the mud systems) by performing tasks like monitoring mud pump manifolds.
“As a Derrickhand, you check the mud probably every couple of hours to make sure your mud is maintained,” said Yewchuk about the process of circulating mud (or drilling fluid) to clean and lubricate a hole while it is being drilled.
“All I have to do is just follow a recipe. Pretty much I am a chef, making mud,” he said, adding that “mud” is not just water and dirt (it is a mixture of water with other fluids and mud-making materials).
Why Trinidad Drilling?
Yewchuk explained that one of the reasons he works with Trinidad Drilling is because there are opportunities to move up in the company. For example, Yewchuk’s next career step is working with Trinidad’s international division in Saudi Arabia.
Read other posts in our “Day in life of a rig worker” series:
If you need an explanation of some of the drilling terminology used in this post, check out our Rig Speak 101 post.