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Drilling a well beneath the surface of the North Sea is a similar process to drilling a hole in a piece of wood at home. The major difference is in the size and strength of the drill bit as it will be boring through some very hard rock formations. The depth of the well will depend on the site of the reservoir and can be from a thousand metres to a few kilometres deep. Lengths of drill pipe, on average 9 metres long, are attached to the drill bit and some drilling operations can take many hours to complete. The use of fluids, usually called drilling mud, to lubricate the drill bit can make the process very dirty and working on the drill floor means exposure to all types of weather conditions.

As the well is being drilled, a casing to prevent the hole from collapsing will be cemented in. Appraisal wells are drilled at the exploration phase and, following the decision for the field to go 'on stream', production wells are drilled. As technology advances, the technique of directional drilling is being used to maximise the performance of the reservoirs. In many locations the drilling is horizontal, which means that the well is more than 80 degrees from the vertical.


This role is generally unskilled manual labouring. The roustabout helps with the drilling activities and maintenance of the drilling area.


More skilled than the roustabout, the roughneck/floorman is directly involved in the drilling process under the supervision of the assistant driller. This position involves hard physical work.


Working about 90 feet above the floor of the rig in the 'derrick' (the distinctive high tower), the derrickman handles the section of drill pipe under the direction of the assistant driller.

Assistant Driller

The assistant driller co-ordinates the activities on the drill floor, reports to the driller and communicates instructions and information from the driller to those working on the drilling.


The driller is responsible for the drilling team and controlling the rate and continuity of the drilling. This is highly skilled as the drill may have to penetrate many different types of rock.


The toolpusher oversees the drilling operations at night. He also ensures that the necessary equipment and materials are available.

Rig Superintendent

The rig superintendent has overall responsibility for the drilling operation.

Drilling Engineer

The drilling engineer specifies the drilling program, what kind of 'mud' should be used and the casing required for the well.

Current drilling jobs

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