Page 4 - HIWT World of Welding Spring-Summer 2021
P. 4

Q and A with a Hobart Institute of Welding Technology Alum Offshore

            By: Janet Piechocki and Hunter Smith

            Recently we have been asked by several students about jobs   not having a “home” and like bouncing around because there is
            welding on an offshore oil rig.  I contacted Hunter Smith, a 2019   more money to be made working shut-ins or turn-a-rounds due to
            graduate of HIWT’S Combination Structural and Pipe Welding   having more hours and less time off.
            Program who is doing just that. Hunter currently works on an   Q: Do you have mandatory overtime?
            offshore oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. Although Hunter has
            a little under two years on the job, he was willing to share his   A: You will be working a minimum of 84 hours per week unless
            experiences working on a rig with students who might have the   there are weather issues or other factors that cause you to end the
            same interests in a career offshore. Students submitted questions   work day. Some platforms will put you down for more hours than
            they had about maritime careers and Hunter willingly answered.   you work as well. This is typically on shelf facilities (“Shelf” refers
            It appears that in order to succeed in a job like Hunter’s, you have   to a shallow water rig), such as you may work 12 hours but they
            to be willing to work long hours, work hard and always be willing   will pay you 14 hours.
            to learn more to improve on the job. Let’s take a look at Hunter’s   Q: What are the opportunities for advancement?
            experiences.                                        A: For a welder, the opportunity for advancement is very high. Most
            Q: How much welding do you actually do on the job?   skilled welders that possess on the job training and show they
                                                                want to move up will eventually become supervisors. Typically a
            A: It all depends on location and job scope. I’m currently on a
            platform as a rope access / welder for maintenance. Sometimes I   welder will go from being a fitter and then perhaps a supervisor and
                                                                then potentially a superintendent. It all depends on the work ethic
            won’t weld all hitch (A “Hitch” refers to the time a marine worker
            spends offshore) other times I will weld most days of the hitch. If   and the education you gain while working.
            I had to give an average of time spent welding, I’d say 2 days per   Q: What is the workplace culture like?
            hitch (14 days) for a maintenance crew. On turn-a-rounds or shut-  A: The workplace culture can vary. Like any job, you will meet
            in’s welding will occur approximately 9-10 days out of 14 while   people you have to tolerate and others that become a huge part
            offshore.                                           of your life. I’m very fortunate to have an amazing work culture on

            Q: What are some of your other duties?              the platform that I call my “home”. Once you have established a
            A: It depends on the company and the supervisors. If I am not   “home”, your coworkers become your family and everyone looks
            welding, I may be torqueing flanges, helping with scaffolding,   out for each other’s  safety especially since we spend more time
                                                                here sometimes than we do at our real homes.  I’ve been on this
            assisting the crane crew, walking down jobs, running cables,
            hanging pipe, rigging, assisting with the boat, learning more   platform since July of 2020 and don’t plan on going anywhere else
                                                                for a while. The culture we have out here is incredible.  Everyone
            detailed prints or doing standby rescue since I’m a level 2 rope
            access technician.                                  gets along well with each other. It is very inviting to the new people
                                                                who aren’t familiar with the facility.
            Q: What are the hours?                              Q: What types of benefits are available?
            A: As an offshore worker we are paid 12 hours per day for every day   A: Benefits will be different for every company just like it is at any
            we are on our hitch. Even if we only work 2 hours one day and get
            shut down due to weather, we will still be paid for 12. There are   other job. I have full benefits health, dental, and vision. Also have a
                                                                401k and life insurance.
            some platforms/ jobs that will require 14-16 hours per day. Those
            jobs are typically only during turn-a-rounds or shut-in’s. If you get   Q: Does anyone go fishing on their off time and if they do,
            really lucky there are some jack-up boats that you may only work   what do they catch?
            12 hours but will be paid for 16-18 hours. The most hours I’ve ever   A: While working on the “shelf” you can definitely fish. Typically the
            worked is 110, but normally for me I get 84-90 hours.   types of fish that are caught are Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder,
            Q: Do you always work on the same location/platform?  Snook, Tarpon, Snapper, Grouper, Amber Jack, Jack Cavell,
            A: When you first start offshore as a welder you will jump around   Tripletail, Cobia, and some other reef dwellers. While working
            for awhile. If you build a good reputation and a supervisor likes your   on Deepwater platforms you are not allowed to fish. Nobody is
            attitude and the work you put out, they will ask you if you want to   allowed near the water unless it’s for a work task. The lowest deck
            stay. You can decline and continue to bounce around or you can   that a personal is allowed on is roughly 70’-100’ above the water.
            accept the offer and that platform will now be your “home”. Some
            people have worked the same platform for 15+ years. Others prefer

            2021 SPRING/SUMMER ISSUE  - 4 -
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