Risk and Reward: Working in the Oil and Gas industry

By Junior Johnson

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I was part of an industry for 32 years that is known about but often misunderstood, as well as those who participate in it. I am referring to the Oil & Gas Industry, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico.

Since my years were all in the Production phase as a Facility Supervisor this is basically where my information comes from. There are two main phases which are drilling, where the oil and gas wells are completed, and production where we produce the product from the wells and ship it to the refineries for processing.Employees work various schedules ranging from seven work days and seven off days, 14:14 and even 28:28, which is primarily for employees working overseas.

This is not a job suited for everyone. Being away from home and your loved ones for long periods of time takes a mental toll on a lot of the employees as well as their family at home. While at work you are on a facility that provides a clean and comfortable place to live and in most cases better food than what you would have at home. It is still not the same as being at home every night.

Working on a schedule such as this, you are subject to missing birthdays of your loved ones, memorable events in their lives, special holidays and other family functions. If you have a family, your loving wife has to deal with the everyday things that may occur on the home front and explain to the little ones why daddy isn’t there. It is not an easy task for the wife or husband who isn’t there to help.

There are many rewards being an offshore worker though. The pay is usually better than one would receive working at a job on land and we only work six months a year, providing weather permits a smooth crew change. That is not always the case and the trip home is delayed. I have met and worked with some of the most remarkable people over the years and have been involved in technology that continues to amaze me.

I have seen some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets that most people will never experience. I have seen schools of dolphins swimming around our facility, as well as shark and barracuda. I’m sure that I have caught hundreds of pounds of red snapper and other delicious fish to bring home and share with my family and friends.

There are dangers involved in this profession; however, the companies spend millions of dollars to keep it at a minimum and it is one of the safest industries in the world. As a Facility Supervisor I am sure that 90% of my work dealt with government required safety systems and procedures that made my workers as safe as possible.

I take pride in knowing that what we do in the Gulf of Mexico provides comfort and a better lifestyle to millions. We do not get the credit that we deserve because we are misrepresented by powers beyond our control.

I will say this in closing. The Gulf of Mexico Oil & Gas producers spend millions of dollars each year to insure that pollution is kept at a minimum. Most people do not know this considering the exposure that we receive.

The BP Deepwater Horizon was a tragedy. Technology was not available at the time to contain the spill. It is now.

I had the pleasure and good fortune to train my son years ago in our Industry. He was like a sponge absorbing water and proud to say that today he is also a Production Facility Supervisor and faces the same challenges that I did. During his time in the Gulf of Mexico he has been blessed with two beautiful children that his mom and I are very proud of. He has missed many things that his 6 and 2-year-old girls experiences as they grow older. So have the many strong men who have chosen this profession to do so much for so many, and God Bless their wives who stand behind them.

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9 thoughts on “Risk and Reward: Working in the Oil and Gas industry

  1. I have had the pleasure of meeting Junior while working with him on his platform and it was one of the best places to go to, I knew after a hard days work if there was time Junior would whip something up for us for supper. Thanks for your offshore service, I am no longer offshore due to an injury and Thank You Sir for you splendid hospitality.

  2. This is a great story Junior,though the drilling side of the industry is a much faster pace than production and the workers put up with a lot more crap. The food in the third world countries is discusting and terrible. And as far as the Deepwater disaster, it was a blow out and not a spill.and we are no closer to controlling such a drilling disaster now as we were then. On the drill ship I work on. 40% of them came from the Transoceanic Horizon

  3. This is so true! I have missed my husband on so many holiday than I would like to remember. But now I have him home with me everyday due to an unfortunate accident with a helicopter failure. I am blessed that he is still with me and I pray everyday that NOTHING ever happens to my son that is a production manager like Junior was while employed out there! I am so very proud of both of them!

  4. Thanks for telling everyone how it is Bud !!!! The worst thing I do every month is is to tell Jeanne good by and have to see her cry… I spent half my life without her and its hard to leave her for half of the time we have left…..

  5. THANKYOU so much for writing this. I can’t help but cry some though as I read it. My husband so enjoyed working with you! Getting to know you through him was a special honor to me. The bond you guys have out there is strong and for life, whether you work together for years or for one hitch!
    THANKYOU for setting a few things straight and for telling the real story through the eyes of the workers, as well as the wives. No matter the job out there, from new to old or low to high level, these men are SO proud to be a part of a great industry that this country cannot live without!!
    Take care Junior.
    Love, Jeanne Nope
    (proud wife of Edwin Nope)

  6. This article touches my heart because it’s so true. So many people don’t know the heartaches that come along when your husband is away and they miss holidays, birthdays, even the birth of their own child, which is my case. My husbands boss told him he could come home but couldn’t pay him so he had to stay and work, she was a week old before he was able to meet our daughter. We have lost loved ones and he has had to mourn on the rig because he had to stay and work to provide for us. Everything breaks down when our husbands are away but somehow God gives us the strength to fix things and be strong for our husbands while they are away. Like you said earlier, it’s very hard on a family but we do cherish each moment we get when he is home

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