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Oil & Gas Australia

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The Role of Effective Communication in Oil Rigs

May 13, 2022

Oil rigs can be quite noisy. Not as noisy as other industries, but still loud enough to cause some noteworthy discomfort. Naturally, workers on oil rigs can get around such a problem with a decent set of high noise communication headsets. Not only will they offer protection, but they’ll also muffle any excess noise, leaving the worker free to do their job in relative comfort.

But the noise doesn’t just affect your physical well-being at an oil rig. During a regular dig, workers have to communicate well with one another. Furthermore, if an oil rig is located offshore, it needs a clear, uninterrupted link with an onshore headquarters. To put it simply, oil rig workers have to keep in touch for a wide variety of reasons.

What might some of those reasons be? What is the role of effective communication in offshore industries such as oil and gas drilling? You’ll find answers to all of those questions and more below.

How Do Crew Members Communicate on Oil Rigs?

Before we move on to the reasons themselves, let’s first discuss the methods of communication on oil rigs.

Most rigs utilize satellite communication systems. That way, they can keep in touch with anyone onshore, anywhere in the world. More importantly, a satellite system can deliver lots of important data from the rig itself, including:

  • Rock formation data from the drilling recorder
  • A survey of seismic and drilling activities
  • Flow measurement data
  • Control data for pumps and valves
  • Temperature monitoring
  • Leak monitoring
  • Corrosion data.

The workers themselves, on the other hand, utilize wireless rig intercoms to communicate amongst themselves. More often than not, two crewmembers will not be able to see each other face-to-face but still have to interact clearly in order to finish a task. As such, cutting-edge intercom technology can help them communicate easily.

Cellular signal boosters are also a definite must on any oil rig. They allow the crewmembers to communicate with loved ones at any point during the day, with no interruptions. Sometimes, people who work on rigs can also use their smartphones to exchange data and communicate with their coworkers. In that case, having a clear mobile signal is crucial, and losing it might be dangerous, even fatal.

Effective Communication’s Contribution to the Industry

Safety

Working on an oil rig is incredibly dangerous. And while the total number of fatalities on oil rigs is smaller compared to other industries, it’s still nothing to take lightly. And it can get even worse if a fatal accident happens in the middle of the ocean, far from anyone who can help.

To put it simply, we cannot understate how important safety protocols are on any oil rig. That’s why rig crew members always get cutting-edge safety items such as noise-canceling headsets and the PPE like Flame-resistant clothing. But what does communication have to do with safety itself?

Well, an average oil rig has a lot of moving parts, and in order to keep everything in check, crewmembers need to exchange all the relevant information in real time. For instance, there might be a leak somewhere, or a valve could go off. In order for the workers to report everything properly, they need to be able to hear each other clearly and without any interruptions. Furthermore, the message they convey must be clear, concise, and understood by anyone.

Productivity

A rig is as efficient as its crew. If there are any delays, mistakes, or miscalculations, the whole operation can suffer. And that, in turn, can lead to a loss of revenue.

In that respect, proper communication becomes even more important. Workers need to be able to relay information to their colleagues and their higher-ups in a timely manner. If they don’t do that, they might fail to provide some critical facts that can help increase the output of the rig. Furthermore, they risk losing their job.

Obviously, there are times when the workers actually do relay the information on time, but nothing comes through because of faulty communication equipment. Sometimes the headset microphones don’t work; other times, the intercoms are malfunctioning. There could even be issues with the wi-fi. Whatever the case may be, it’s not necessarily down to human error but the lack of proper output from the gear they use.

With the proper communication equipment, such incidents would become a thing of the past. Crewmembers could communicate quickly and efficiently, making little to no mistakes along the way. However, it’s vital that each worker takes care of their communication items and reports any potential issues. The rig owner’s job, conversely, is to acquire the best equipment on the market today.

Harmony

Out of all the benefits of proper oil rig communication, it’s the harmony that most people seem to neglect. However, it is just as vital as the other two for a number of reasons. But first, let’s quickly go over what harmony is.

In the broadest sense possible, harmony is how the employees interact in one given space during work hours. Oil rigs can be incredibly diverse in terms of who gets employed. Therefore, your own workforce can consist of dozens of people with wildly different outlooks on life who have to handle a risky job together. And to be blunt, they will never be able to do that if they don’t get along.

Therefore, proper communication is key in connecting people who would otherwise not feel connected. With the right tools at your disposal, you can act as a conductor of sorts, with the employees as your orchestra. Using faulty gadgets, employees can relay a message wrong, which can come up as a misunderstanding and cause a rift in the workforce. To avoid that, you need to keep the interactions clear, to the point, and impossible to misunderstand. That way, employees will work like a well-oiled machine, and soon enough, they will develop trust and respect for one another. That will create a healthy working environment, which is crucial for any business to succeed.

Offshore Communication Summarized

Very few things are easy in the offshore industry, both for the employees and the higher-ups. However, with the right tools and proper communication, you can solve nearly any problem that comes your way. Once you do, you’ll have the best output an oil rig gig can provide.

Image caption: Workers at oil rig wearing safety tools to protect them from any accident