ROV employment

Posted by mnc_blog under general 
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I recently attended an exhibition in Birmingham (30th October 2010 Dive exhibition) where a stand from one of the major trainers in the industry (UW centre) was set up and I took the opportunity to ask a series of questions about employment in the ROV industry for ex-seafarers.

Where are the base engineer positions and do they also do open days?

Aberdeen / Portland (Global Marine) / Portsmouth / Lowestoft (wind farms)

Is embedded programming required to maintain ROVs?

No, I’ve never seen anybody writing code offshore.

What is the weakest point in the ROV / umbilical chain and how do you repair a break?

The weakest point is where the umbilicial joins the ROV and you need fibre optic joining skills for this.

Do umbilicals ever break in the middle?


Down to what component level are repairs required?

Module level only because boards are repaired ashore and there are two/three flights a day so contact with the shore for spares is routine.

Are the electronics modular i.e. changing boards?

See above.

If 70% of “graduates” are now employed what are the 30% doing?

Some have family issues, pressure from wives and relatives keeping them ashore.  Some have trouble adjusting to self-employment and going out looking for work, selling themselves, some have been out for a trip and didn’t like the environment and chose to pursue a different career.

I’m 55, what are the realistic chances of employment offshore as an ROV Pilot / Technician?

If you were working on hydraulic ROVs for deep water drilling then 100% because divers cannot work at those depths and hydraulic ROVs are required to do the heavy work and there is a shortage of suitably qualified people.

On the purely electrical / electronic work you have less chance of permanent employment which in case depends on the oil price.  $80 / barrel is a figure above which employment is highly likely and below which it will be more difficult to find full time employment owing to the poorer returns for the oil companies.

He went on to say that age can work in your favour because much of the equipment is valuable and some of it worth millions of pounds so the oil company may well prefer to have a mature candidate rather than a youngster in charge.  He certainly didn’t think that age was a barrier to entry providing one has the skills.

What are the certificates required to work offshore and in what order?

1) Offshore medical  2) Helicopter Underwater Evacuation 3) The BOSIET (Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training)

Who are the major employers?

You will be provided with a list at the end of the course.

What are the shifts?

12 on and 12 off or on ROVs working with divers more likely to be 8h x 3 shifts around the clock for safety.

What is the rotation in days?

28 on / 14 off or 14 on / 14 off or further afield up to 96 on, depends on the distance from home.

What knowledge will get me employed in Brazil?

Being a Brazilian citizen will help, they have a labour law that requires 60% Brazilian citizens working in the industry.  When I pointed out that 40% is a big number he replied that that is already occupied by foreign contractors in different sectors of the industry.

Is it possible to freelance or is it better to get in with one employer and stay there?

The answer was related to the answer above about the oil price.  How well the industry is doing seems to depend entirely on the oil price.  Above $80 barrel seems to be the threshold value.