Michael Portman has wanted to drill internationally since he started working on the rigs 10 years ago, so when Trinidad put out a bulletin asking for employees to go on assignment to Saudi Arabia, he applied that day.
“I’ve always wanted to go work overseas, so when the opportunity came up, I couldn’t say no,” said Portman, a Derrickhand from Vancouver, B.C.
Portman just finished his first hitch on Rig 126, an upgraded triple operating in the Khurais oil field, about three and a half hours southwest of Dammam, the capital of Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia.
It’s early days, but here are four things Portman is getting to experience on this new adventure:
1. Getting a chance to lead
Trinidad’s operations in Saudi Arabia are still young. In fall of 2013, Trinidad announced it would be expanding into the world’s second largest oil producing country through a joint venture with Halliburton. Spudding began in 2014.
2. Exposure to a new culture
One of the reasons Portman wanted to work internationally was so he could experience different cultures, and that is exactly what he’s doing on Rig 126. The Canuck works alongside rig hands from the Middle East, so he has picked up a little bit of Arabic.
Portman said the language barrier can sometimes be difficult, but “you figure out ways to communicate – lots of hand signals and eye contact.”
3. Experience a different oil patch
Workers on rotation in Saudi Arabia spend 35 days in the field and then have 35 days to go home or travel. While at work, rig responsibilities are similar to North American operations, but there are differences in camp life and the way crews are structured.
During his hitch, Portman stays near the rig’s desert location at a fully-catered camp that is equipped with boarding facilities as well as a gym and mosque.
The crew Portman works with in Saudi Arabia is larger than the eight-person team he was a part of in Canada. Rig 126 is multicultural, and the team can consist of a Senior Rig Manager, a Junior Rig Manager, a night Junior Rig Manager and crews made up of a Driller, an Assistant Driller, a Derrickhand, four Floorhands, a Roustabout Pusher and four Roustabouts.
“Honestly, at first I got there and it was so overwhelming, just the cultural change,” said Portman, but he added that it only took a couple of weeks to adapt. “I like it a lot so far.”
4. Opportunities can open up
Overseas assignments can open up new opportunities both in your career and personal life.
On the career side, advancement opportunities may become available because of the skills and knowledge you gain internationally.
In terms of personal growth, you have the option to travel to other locales on your 35-days off, a perk Portman would like to take advantage of.
Working with Trinidad Drilling
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