What is a Rotary Drill Operator?

Rotary drill operators are adept at installing and operating drilling equipment for the purpose of oil and gas exploration activities. They carry out the physical aspects of the drilling plans that petroleum engineers have put in place.

What does a Rotary Drill Operator do?

The responsibilities of a rotary drill operator can vary, depending on the location and employer. Duties can include measuring and marking drilling spots, conducting assessments, keeping records, managing staff, performing regular safety checks, and maintaining equipment.

A rotary drill operator carries out the physical aspects of the drilling plans that petroleum engineers have put in place.

Rotary drill operators include roustabouts, derrick operators, service unit operators, and rotary drill operators.

Roustabouts typically do the following:

  • Clean equipment and keep the work area orderly and free of debris
  • Use electronic detectors and make visual inspections in flow lines to locate leaks
  • Use truck winches and motorized lifts to move pipes to and from trucks or move the pipes by hand
  • Dismantle and repair oil field machinery, boilers, and steam engine parts
  • Guide cranes that move loads
  • Attach lifting slings to loads moved by cranes or by other special equipment, such as gin-pole trucks

Derrick operators typically do the following:

  • Inspect derricks, or order their inspection, before they are raised or lowered
  • Make sure the drilling fluid continues to flow correctly
  • Repair pumps and other equipment related to the drilling fluid system
  • Ensure that rig pumps and other drilling systems are working properly
  • Use harnesses and platform climbing devices to position and align derrick elements
  • Supervise crew members and help train them
  • Guide lengths of pipe into and out of elevators
  • Help maintain other rig equipment

Service unit operators typically do the following:

  • Maintain wells by removing tubes or rods from the hole that is drilled into the ground
  • Observe load variations on gauges, pumps, and pressure indicators
  • Inspect engines, rotary chains, and other equipment to detect faulty operations or unusual equipment conditions
  • Drive truck-mounted units to well sites
  • Install pressure-control devices onto wellheads
  • Thread cables through derrick pulleys
  • Operate pumps that circulate water, oil, or other fluids through wells to remove sand or other materials obstructing the free flow of oil
  • Operate controls that raise derricks or level rigs

Rotary drill operators typically do the following:

  • Oversee maintenance of the drill rig and implementation of the well plan
  • Train crews and introduce procedures to make operations safe and effective
  • Observe pressure gauges and move throttles and levers, both to control the speed of rotary tables and to regulate the pressure of tools at the bottoms of drill holes
  • Observe gauges that monitor well flow to prevent an overflow
  • Keep records of footage drilled, locations and the nature of layers drilled, materials and drilling tools used, services performed, and time required
  • Start and examine pump operations to ensure circulation and consistency of drilling fluids or mud in wells
  • Use special tools to locate and recover lost or broken bits, casings, and drill pipes from wells

Are you suited to be a rotary drill operator?

Rotary drill operators have distinct personalities. They tend to be realistic individuals, which means they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty. They like tasks that are tactile, physical, athletic, or mechanical. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

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What is the workplace of a Rotary Drill Operator like?

Rotary drill operators are employed mainly in oil and gas extraction and in firms offering support for mining. Oil and gas sites can be on land, in inland waters, or at sea (offshore). During hazardous weather, coastal land rigs and offshore production and drilling facilities may have to be evacuated.

Derrick operators and rotary drill operators experience higher-than-average rates of nonfatal injuries. Constant care must be taken to minimize incidents and maximize safety in a work environment where secure footing is often a concern.

Proper use of personal protective equipment, such as hard hats, minimizes risks on job sites. An additional danger is the constant, loud noise from the drilling machinery. This noise makes communication difficult, so it is important for workers to follow safety instructions from supervisors and other experienced co-workers.

Most rotary drill operators work full time, but they often have to work overtime. Oil and gas drilling rigs usually operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Workers on land drilling rigs typically work eight or twelve hour shifts. While some land drilling rig personnel work seven days a week without days off until the well is complete, most work seven or fourteen days on and then equal days off.

The remote location of offshore oil rigs requires some workers to live onsite for weeks at a time, frequently working 12-hour shifts, followed by an extended leave period onshore. As a result, part-time opportunities are rare.

Rotary Drill Operators are also known as:
Oil and Gas Rotary Drill Operator Drilling Rig Operator Oil Rig Driller Oil Well Driller