Drilling rigs are always on the move. Crewmembers are assigned to a specific rig. Their work location changes as the rig moves to new sites.
The work schedule for a rig crew is structured around the idea that each crewmember travels a long distance from home.
A crew will typically work 7 days of 12-hour day shifts, then 7 days of 12-hour night shifts, followed by 7 days off.Rig employees refer to their work period as a 'hitch.'
This is a common rotation for a hitch, but it can vary. Sometimes a rig crew works 20 days on, followed by 10 days off. A crew may also be scheduled for 2 weeks of day shifts, followed by 7 days off, followed by 2 weeks of night shifts.
Some rigs also rotate four crews. These crews work 8 hour shifts: a crew will work the morning/early afternoon shift for one week, then the afternoon/evening shift for the second week, then the graveyard shift for the third week. This 8-hour shift rotation is most often found on rigs working in Saskatchewan.
What your schedule looks like will depend on the company you work for and the rig you're assigned to.
If the drilling location is close to a town, crewmembers arrange their own accommodations. The employer provides each employee with a subsistence allowance to help cover living expenses while away from home.
Sometimes the drilling location isn’t close enough to a town to reasonably expect the crew to commute back and forth each day. In this case, a camp is provided near the rig. A camp includes sleeping quarters, a kitchen, a dining facility, a laundry room and a recreation room.
Rig employees provide their own transportation to the drilling location and must be prepared for camp jobs and non-camp jobs.
Drilling rig companies work on contracts for oil and gas producing companies. The terms of the contract can change for each job. The location of the rig and the terms of the contract will determine if a job provides for a camp or not. Every time the rig moves to a new drilling location, the nature of the job site and the accommodations will change.