Life Onshore and Offshore

Although the majority of oil and gas industry jobs are located onshore, careers in the offshore industry are extremely varied.  

Have a look at the 'Day in the life of Buzzard' video to see what it is like being based offshore.  Also have a look below for further information.


  • Getting to work
  • Food
  • Recreation
  • Working hours
  • Smoking, drugs and alcohol
  • Salaries
  • Medical care
  • Accommodation

Reaching the offshore installation you’re working on generally involves flying by helicopter. Depending where the installation is located around the coast of the UK will dictate where you fly from. 

For all the Central and Northern North Sea installations, the departure point is Aberdeen and for all the Southern North Sea installations the departure point is Norwich. The 'time off' allowances dictated by the working patterns offshore mean you can live all across the country and not just in the areas you depart from.

The helicopters used for offshore travel vary in size and smaller helicopters can be used for inter-platform transfers. There are strict health and safety procedures in place to travel offshore. For example, you must wear immersion suits and lifejackets at all times and before every single flight there will be a safety briefing including a detailed video.  Health and safety is a very important aspect of the oil and gas industry - you can learn more about some of the training you need to work offshore here.

Most offshore oil and gas installations have self-service canteen-type catering arrangements, with a wide range of options to choose from.

Fresh food is regularly delivered to the installation by supply boat or helicopter, so things like fruit and salad are readily available.

Bet you didn't think their would be chef's in the oil and gas industry?  Each offshore installation has a team of kitchen staff on board to prepare meals for the offshore workforce - and most would agree, it's a very important role!

Most offshore installations have good leisure facilities for the employees on board.

These can include a gym and recreation rooms with TVs, DVDs, pool tables and other activities.

The usual working pattern for people working offshore is a 12 hour (day or night) shift, and it is normal for North Sea workers to spend two or three weeks offshore and then two or three weeks onshore.

Generally speaking holiday entitlement is included in the time off. However, different companies have different arrangements, so you should check at the time you apply.

Outside of the UK work trips may be longer – perhaps four or even six weeks – but your time ashore would be longer as well.

Smoking offshore is allowed but, for obvious safety reasons, only in designated areas. You are NOT allowed to take any source of ignition offshore. Matches for lighting cigarettes are provided in the smoking areas.

Alcohol and non-prescribed drugs are completely banned on all offshore oil and gas installations. Taking or possessing alcohol or controlled substances will result in termination of employment.

Most companies have a random drug testing policy.

Salaries within the oil and gas industry vary, and will depend on your role and company.

Before traveling offshore, oil and gas employees must undergo a medical to ensure they are fit to do so.

Once offshore, all installations have a medic present to look after the general health of staff and deal with any medical emergencies.

On most offshore oil and gas installations, accommodation is shared, a bit like the cabin on a large ferry.  Each cabin will have its own wash hand basin and often a TV.  Shower and toilet facilities are not always en-suite, sometimes they are shared between a couple of cabins and there are also leisure and recreation areas. 

There is no mobile phone signal offshore, however there are ample public card phones and all the platforms have broadband internet and WiFi so you can send and recieve emails, Instant Messages and Facetime and Skype.