Drilling Contractors

Drilling contractors are the people who provide the equipment, people and expertise to drill the wells, which can be either offshore or onshore. Most of the companies listed below are offshore drilling contractors, as that is what this site is about. There are some onshore companies included.

If, for some reason, you cannot get an offshore gig right away, consider working with at an onshore drilling site. Many of the land rigs work some type of a rotating schedule, usually 7/7. If you have never been around a drilling rig before, you will gain valuable experience which might help you to land that offshore job.

There are approximately 859 offshore rigs in the world fleet at this time. Some are still under construction, but are included in the numbers. It will not be long before these rigs will be needing crews. Some are en route from one location to another. Some are stacked, meaning they do not have a contract at this time and only have a skeleton crew on board. 

The majority of the rigs, around 78%, are working. They are working in Australia, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Eastern Coast of Canada, the Far East, the Gulf of Mexico, Latin America, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the North Sea and West Africa.

I have included the locations of where the rigs for each company are operating. A good place for you to start will be to find rigs that are operating in areas that are near you geographically. These companies are headquartered in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, China, Croatia, Norway, Russia, India, Japan, Scotland, Denmark, Australia, Venezuela, Poland, Brazil, Africa, Sweden, and Malaysia.

Drilling contractors are the ones who find the oil, called making hole. They accomplish this with a piece of equipment called a drilling rig, just rig for short. They come in all shapes and sizes and work both land and offshore.

Most land rigs, because they are trailer mounted for highway transportation, are limited to a certain size. Except for their size, land rigs pretty much all look the same.

Offshore rigs are a different matter altogether. They come in all shapes as well as sizes. Each type of rig has a specific environment it was created to work in, going from the protected shallow waters of inland marshes that are only a few feet deep to the most hostile oceans of the world in water depths which are thousands of feet deep.

What type of rig you work on is going to determine your pay. A rig crew on an inland barge working on a swamp in Louisiana is not going to make nearly as much as a rig crew on a dynamically positioned (DP) semi submersible drilling in 9,000 feet of water. I'm sure the boys in the swamp will be working just as hard as the deep water guys, and maybe even harder (some of them old swamp rigs will work you to death), but generally how it works is that the more sophisticated a rig is, the more money you will make.

I've compiled a pay scale below of what rig hands (staff / crew) are paid, on an average, in the Gulf of Mexico working on / with a dynamically positioned (DP) semi submersible or a drill ship. Office positions receive a car.

If you work overseas the rotation bonus is around 25%. Some companies, in particularly hostile areas will pay as high as 50%. Office positions receive a car and a monthly per diem of about $1,000.

General Manager
(Office Based) $1100
Operations Manager
(Office Based)  $9500
Rig Manager
(Office Based) $9000
Marine Manager
(Office Based) $8500
Maintenance Manager
(Office Based) $7500
Rig Superintendent
Senior Toolpusher
Chief Engineer
Sub Sea Engineer
Barge Captain
Chief Officer
Assistant Driller

Where the rigs are:

  • Eastern Europe - 29
  • The Far East -26
  • Gulf of Mexico - 336
  • Latin America 125
  • The Mediterranean - 10
  • The Middle East - 76
  • The North Sea - 80
  • West Africa - 59
  • Australia / Asia - 76
  • Southern Asia - 28
  • East Coast Canada - 5

Jobs on the rigs will include cleaner / painters and roustabouts (both entry level) riggers (slingers), floorhands, crane operators, welders, electricians, mechanics, motormen, oilers, engineers, chief engineers, derrickmen, assistant drillers, drillers, tool pushers, warehousemen, medic / safety persons, ballast controlmen, DP operators, barge operators, barge engineers, rig managers, rig superintendents, etc.

All these positions except entry level will require some type of prior experience unless you just get very, very lucky. 

If you live in the US and want to work overseas, understand that drilling contractors seldom if ever send lower echelon people overseas. An overseas crew might have an American tool pusher, driller, crane operator, barge engineer and electrician. Maybe a few more, maybe a few less, it varies from company to company, rig to rig, job to job.

You are not going to see roustabouts, cleaner / painters, riggers, floorhands going overseas and working a 28/28 schedule because the country where the rig is working in is going to want to put their own people on board (nationals) for those jobs and as many other jobs as they can get. It's part of the deal.

If anyone has told you that entry level oilfield personnel can make $60,000 a year they have fed you a bit of a line here. It just does not happen on a regular basis. 

Highlighted sites have career links on their web page, most of them with vacancies / job postings which need to be filled ASAP. Good luck! And please keep us posted as to your results.

Aban Loyd Chiles Offshore Limited, Chennai, India
An Indo US joint venture providing offshore exploration and production services. Employs 5,000 plus.
Work Area: Southern Asia

Apache Corporation, Houston, TX, USA
Leading independent oil and gas exploration and development company.
Work Area: United States, Canada, Egypt, Western Australia, Argentina, Poland and China

Atwood Oceanics, Houston, TX, USA
Engaged in the business of international offshore drilling and completion of exploratory and developmental oil and gas wells as well as related support, management, and consulting services.
Work Area: Australia, Asia, the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Middle East

Bourbon Offshore, World wide Locations
With a modern fleet of 388 offshore vessels and 111 units on order as of June 30, 2010, the BOURBON Offshore Division, backed by 7,200 qualified employees (office workers, officers and seamen), offers a comprehensive range of highly productive innovative offshore oil services vessels.

COSL Drilling, COSL Drilling Europe AS owns and operates 5 drilling- and accommodation units. All units are in operation in the North Sea area. The fleet consist of three drilling units and two accommodation units.

CNOOC, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Beijing, China
Organizes for the exploration, development and production of offshore petroleum and natural gas resources and refining of petro-chemical and and natural gas processing. 21,000 plus employees.
Work Area: The Far East, Australia, Asia and West Africa

Crosco Integrated, Zagreb, Croatia
A drilling and well service company operating a jack up and semi submersible in the Mediterranean.

Deep Marine Technology, Houston, TX, USA
Deepwater projects, Platform inspection and repair, Drilling and construction.

Deepwater Drilling & Services, New Delhi, India
Deepwater Drilling and Services Pvt Ltd is an Indian Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling Company incorporated under the Indian Companies act 1956 with an objective to carry out business in the field of Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration and development drilling and branching out to other value added services. 

Diamond Offshore, Houston, TX, USA
Operates in six of the world's seven continents with a fleet of 30 semi submersibles, 14 jack-ups and one dynamically positioned drillship. Diamond employs 3,500 plus men and women worldwide with offices in Houston, Louisiana, Africa, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Scotland, Singapore and the Netherlands.
Work Area: Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, Latin America, Australia and Asia

Fred. Olsen Energy ASA
Provides exploration and production services to the offshore oil and gas industry building on 150 years experience in shipping and more than 35 years in offshore drilling. The Company focuses on rewarding long term customer relationships where innovative and integrated solutions are presented to the benefit of our customers, shareholders and employees.
Work Area: The North Sea, the Mediterranean and Latin America

ENSCO, Dallas, TX, USA
One of the leading offshore oil and gas drilling contractors in the world with a fleet of 56 offshore drilling rigs and 27 oilfield support vessels.
Work Area: Gulf of Mexico, Australia, Asia, Latin America, the North Sea, the Middle East and West Africa

Far East Marine Company, Sakhalin Region, Russia
A regular participant of all oil and gas development projects in offshore Sakhalin. We plan extending the sphere of our traditional fleet activities as well as mastering new opportunities. One rig working in the Far East, three in the Persian Gulf.

Frontier Drilling A/S, Bergen, Norway
Crews and international personnel are mainly hired through a subsidiary in Cyprus.
Work Area: Southern Asia and Australia

Helmerich and Payne, Inc, Metairie, LA, USA
Owns and operates12  platform rigs and manages 4 offshore management contracts in the Gulf of Mexico and the West Coast Santa Barbara Channel. H&P's diverse offshore fleet consists of deepwater tension leg platform (TLP) rigs, self moving rigs and traditional self contained platform rigs.
Work Area: Gulf of Mexico, West Coast California

Jindal Drilling Industries, Ltd., New Delhi, India
Drilling and prospecting for oil and gas onshore and offshore.
Work Area: India and surrounding areas

Japan Drilling Company, Tokyo, Japan
Operates in Indonesia, Asia and Oceania, the Middle East and West Africa as an offshore drilling contractor. JDC has also been providing engineering services related to research and development in oil and gas drilling and exploration as well as methane hydrate development, and in recent years has offered technical assistance for deep-sea drilling projects.

KCA DEUTAG, Aberdeen, Scotland
The UK's largest drilling contractor employing some 3,500 staff worldwide. In addition to its substantial North Sea platform drilling operations, KCA DEUTAG has undertaken international projects in some of the most demanding environments of Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and this has proved extremely beneficial in some of its new operating areas such as Azerbaijan, Iran, Siberia and Sakhalin Island.

Maersk Contractors, Copenhagen, Denmark
Drilling and floating production are our main services, but we are also experienced within protection against H2S and environmental services. Maersk Contractors employs an international staff of more than 5,000 well-trained people together with our affiliate, Egyptian Drilling Company.
Work Area: North Sea, the Far East, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe

Mannai Offshore, Doha, Qatar
Operates a fleet of vessels, jack-up accommodation rigs and early production facilities that provide a wide range of specialized services to the offshore oil and gas industry.
Work Area: Offshore Qatar and surrounding areas

Nabors Industries, Houston, TX, USA
The largest land drilling contractor in the world. One of the largest well-servicing and workover contractors in the United States. A leading provider of offshore platform workover and drilling rigs. A provider of ancillary well site services such as oilfield management, engineering, transportation, construction, maintenance and well logging.
Work Area: Gulf of Mexico, Latin America and the Middle East

Neptune Exploration Industries, Ltd., New Delhi, India
Drilling, exploration, exploitation, extraction, production of oil, gas and petroleum products offshore and/or onshore.
Work Area: India and surrounding areas

Neptune Marine Oil & Gas,, Nicosia, Cyprus
Neptune Marine's business strategy is to acquire, reactivate and operate second-hand drilling units. Primary market focus on drilling operations in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Middle East, India and South East Asia.

Noble Drilling Corporation, Lafayette, LA, USA
A leading provider of diversified services for the oil and gas industry including contract drilling services performed with the company's fleet of 53 offshore drilling units located in key markets worldwide.
Work Area: Gulf of Mexico, the Far East, West Africa, the North Sea, Latin America, the Middle East, Southern Asia and Australia

Odfjell Drilling, Bergen, Norway
Owns and operates semi-submersible drilling rigs in the North Sea and is also a leading platform drilling contractor with operations on fixed and floating production platforms.

ONCG, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Dehradun, India
Work Area: Southern Asia

Parker Drilling Company, Houston, TX, USA
A global drilling company providing drilling rigs, labor management and rental tools to the energy industry. Parker's primary business segment is drilling rigs with 33 in the United States Gulf of Mexico and 46 internationally. The company’s international rig fleet consists of barge rigs in the Caspian Sea and Nigeria and land rigs in 12 countries.
Work Area: Gulf of Mexico, Eastern Europe and West Africa

Prosafe ASA, Tananger, Norway
World's leading owner and operator of semi-submersible service rigs, the largest platform drilling contractor in Norway and a major owner and operator of floating production- and storage vessels outside the North Sea.

Paterson UTI, INC., Houston, TX, USA
The second-largest provider of onshore contract drilling services to exploration and production companies in North America. The company owns 324 land-based drilling rigs and is also engaged in drilling and completion fluid services and pressure pumping services. 
Work Area: Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah and western Canada

Petrolia Drilling ASA, Oslo
Owns and charters drilling vessels for offshore, deepwater oil and gas exploration and development drilling. It intends to continue to expand its current rig fleet through a strategy of acquiring, refurbishing and selectively deploying offshore drilling rigs and drillships on fixed-rate, long-term contracts.

Precision Drilling, Alberta, Canada
Maintains a fleet of 240 plus land rigs working in Canada and other countries, making the company one of the largest land drilling contractors in the world. Operations include drilling, catering, well servicing and oilfield rentals.
Work Area:
Canada, Mexico, Columbia, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Egypt, the Middle East, China, India, Indonesia and Kazakhstan

Petrobaltic, Gdansk, Poland
The only firm in Poland that performs exploration and extraction of oil and gas from the offshore deposits.
Work Area: Eastern Europe

Petrobras, Rio de Janerio, Brazil
Brazil's leader in the distribution of oil products and is now internationally acknowledged as one of the largest twenty major oil companies in the world today, leading the sector in the implementation of the most advanced deep-water technology for oil production.
Work Area: Latin America

Pride International, Houston, TX, USA
One of the world's largest drilling contractors providing offshore and onshore drilling, workover and related services in more than 30 countries. Fleet of 328 rigs includes 2 ultra deep water drillships, 12 semi submersibles, 35 jackups, 5 tender assisted rigs, 3 barge rigs, 21 offshore platform rigs and 250 land based drilling and workover rigs.
Work Area: Gulf of Mexico, West Africa, the Mediterranean, Latin America, the Middle East, Australia and Asia

Prosafe SE, Stavanger, Norway
Prosafe is the world´s leading owner and operator of semi-submersible service rigs and a major owner and operator of floating production and storage vessels.

Rowan Companies, Houston, TX, USA
A provider of international and domestic contract drilling and aviation services. Rowan has a marine division which has designed or built over one third of all mobile offshore jack up drilling rigs, including 22 operated by the company.
Work Area: Gulf of Mexico, East Coast of Canada

Saipem, Italy
Operating the most technologically advanced equipment and vessels on the market, Saipem drills wells, installs offshore platforms and production systems, and lays onshore and subsea pipelines in some of the world's deepest waters and most hostile climatic conditions, while adhering to the highest health, safety and environmental standards.
Work Area: Five Continents

Songa Offshore, Olso, Norway
Operates 4 semis and one drill ship

Stena Drilling, Gothenburg, Sweden
Operates 5 semi submersibles in the North Sea, the Far East,  Asia, the Caribbean, South America, Australia and West Africa.
Work Area: The North Sea, Australia, Asia and Latin America

Tesco Corporation, Houston, TX, USA
Tesco Corporation is an Industry leader in the development and commercialization of drilling technology and services. The Corporation’s mission is to change the way wells are drilled; by reducing drilling risk and increasing operational efficiency TESCO generates real value for its customers.

Transocean, Houston, TX, USA
The world's largest drilling company, operating in the United Kingdom, Norway, the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, India, the Caspian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Canada, West Africa, Latin America and the North Sea

San Antonio International, South America
leading provider of integrated drilling, services and management to oil and natural gas companies.