Rig hands can spend up to half the year away from home, often working in remote locations, and sometimes in other countries. Exposed to the elements for up to twelve and a half hours a shift, they need to be well-rested and well-fed to perform their duties safely and efficiently on the rig.
For newcomers to the drilling business, here’s a look at where rig hands hang their hats at the end of the day. Welcome to camp life!
Camp jobs: Living at or near your drilling rig
One of the most common camp situations are what the industry calls “Texas camps,” where crews are responsible for supplying their own bedding, cooking supplies, groceries, and toiletries. Texas camps often consist of shared (and sometimes individual) bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen, television room, meeting rooms and a recreation room. They can be located at the rig site, or nearby.
Anyone that’s stayed at a full-service camp knows they’ve hit the jackpot in terms of living situations – pending the quality of their food caterer, of course. These camps are often shared with other crews working in the area and offer full-service cooking, cleaning and laundry; wifi; a gym; and entertainment options like movie theatres and games rooms.
Here’s a (really nice) example of a full-service camp, similar to Rig 57’s when it was in Fort McMurray, Alberta:
Non-camp jobs: home and hotels
When camps aren’t provided, rig hands have a few other options, based on the location and operator.
Commuting from home
Depending on how close the rig is to home, some rig hands choose to head home every day at the end of their shift. Our rig crews in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, for example, work eight-hour shifts, rather than the Canadian industry-norm twelve-hour shifts and make the drive to and from the rig each day.
If a camp isn’t provided, staying in hotels near the rig is another option. In this case, crews often pay for their expenses upfront, but are provided subsistence pay to cover the cost of living away from the rig.
Staying at campsites during summer months
During summer months, some Canadian rig hands have the option to stay in their personal trailers or RVs at nearby campsites. Trust us, there’s nothing like homemade smokies and s’mores over a campfire at the end of a long day slinging tongs.
Camp life = quality time with your rig family
The living arrangements at a drilling rig may not be the most glamourous, but we can assure you the time spent in camp mess halls and kitchens are where some of the best brotherhoods are built.
Want to learn more about rig life and lingo? Check out other posts in our “Rig speak 101” series: