5 Things I Learned While Offshore On An Oil Platform

What Being Offshore On An Oil Platform Taught Me…

Oil and gas.

Many adjectives can describe the phrase above.

Lucrative. Dangerous. Expensive.

The above are just a few of the many descriptions one can associate with oil and gas, whether as a career or commodity. Recently I’ve had the privilege of being on an oil platform for close to 2 weeks, and I’ve observed a few things…

1) Work life balance is very important

This one was an interesting one to observe. We usually work from Monday to Fridays with weekends in between to recharge. Not them though. They work everyday, as long as they are still on the platform. Depending on the company, it could be for 2 weeks, a month…or even 2 months and beyond. When they work, they really work. But when back on land….*insert here*

Their schedules while offshore are not the typical 9 to 5 we’ve all come to be familiar with (and maybe complain about). Rather, they work mostly 12 hour days i.e from 6 am to 6 pm.

Oh, and did I mention they have night shift operators who work the other 12 hours?

2) Punctuality must always be practiced

People there place a lot of emphasis on timeliness. They have safety meetings, toolbox meetings, teleconference meetings, and a ton of other meetings (sometimes I wonder how they find the time to work) yet they always seem to start and end on time.

The same goes for food breaks. Break times are adhered to religiously, even more than being religious itself sometimes, haha. Jokes aside, as long as the platform is not burning, all work must be stopped for food.

Hmm, secretly trying to convince myself that tardiness is acceptable because in KL we have something called traffic jams….

3) A lot of money can be saved

The perks of working offshore is obvious to many. Among them are: good food, decent room, air conditioned living quarters, good company (hopefully). How much can be saved, you ask? Let’s start by looking at what one may spend in a typical working day, actual numbers may differ.

  1. Parking = RM 5
  2. Breakfast (RM 3) + Lunch (RM 8) + Dinner (RM 7) = RM 18
  3. Toll (optional) = RM 3

TOTAL = RM 26.

All that in a day. What about 10 working days (equivalent to 2 weeks offshore)? How much do you think one spends on an oil platform?

4) You won’t become rich overnight

Surprise, surprise. Working in the oil and gas industry won’t make you rich overnight.

Oh, definitely not. Probably the only methods to get rich overnight are winning the lottery and scamming people through scammy multi-level marketing ponzi schemes.

Nothing ever comes easy in life, especially money. It takes years of sweat and tears. But grown men don’t cry right?

5) It’s hard to think beyond the offshore lifestyle

Talking to different people in different positions on the oil platform, I realised one thing. For many of them, their career is their life. Besides their jobs, their lives revolve around their families on their days off. Anything else is of little interest to them.

By the way, if you’re considered an otai offshore, you would likely be known within the oil and gas circles…across the South China Sea even. When you’ve been in the industry for long enough (since oil and gas operations started in Malaysia), you probably know every Tom, Dick and Harry around.

For your information, at one time a high number of expats were the norm due to the expertise they brought in and the relative newness of the industry in the country.

Although now they’re probably back in their home countries and have since been replaced by our familiar friends Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu.


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