Working in Africa in the Oil Industry

The oil industries in Africa have five major players that dominate the market, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Angola and Nigeria. They produce between 83 and 87% of the continent?s oil. They are not the only countries that produce oil in Africa, but out of the 52 countries on the continent, they are the front-runners. Other countries are Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Cote d??voire, Gabon, Tunisia,and the DRC. Emerging countries that are developing and exploring oil production are Sudan, Madagascar, South Africa, Chad and Namibia. The oil industries in Africa have confirmed reserves of between 73 and 77 billion barrels of oil that make up 7% of the global total.

Working in Africa in the Oil Industry should not be a problem. Most of the International oil companies have a presence in Africa. This is one of the continents where the oil industries are more accessible to the rest of the world because it is an economic developing continent that has been riddled by numerous wars.

Most governments are just too happy to have the influx of foreign currencies and the job creation large corporations offer.

The governments grant companies the necessary permits to produce and extract oil. There is also an enormous drive to expand the African oil industry to become a world force. This drive is to shift the dependency of countries on the Middle East to Africa for their oil reserves. Development programs with a short time line focus on Sub Sahara Africa, Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea. Actions in the Sub Saharan are focused mainly offshore in the southern and central parts of the Gulf of Guinea.

Working in Africa in the oil industry doesn't differ much from the rest of the world if you look at the job responsibilities. The most significant difference will be the working conditions. Africa has a very warm and dry climate with temperatures reaching 35 to 40 degrees Celsius. Compared to Europe and America that have lower temperatures, as well as wetter conditions, this can take its toll on teams working outside on the oilrigs. Heat and sunstroke, as well as dehydration can easily set in if workers do not take proper precautions.

Working Schedules

Working schedules don't differ from any other oilrig. It starts at 7 in the morning and ends the 12-hour shift at 7 in the evening. Drilling teams also generally have one day off for every 6 days work. Most companies prefer to work on a two-week schedule. Workers will work a 12-hour shift per day for fourteen consecutive days and then have either a 14-day or a 21-day rest period depending on the company policy. This schedule work well because workers can take the time off and fly home to their families.

Most oilrigs are fitted with recreation rooms where workers can watch a movie, read a book, browse the Internet, and play pool or other games that available during their free time. There are also usually a gym and sauna to keep those muscles toned and fit. Even though twelve hours of free time might sound like a lot especially on a rig since the rigs are in the middle of nowhere, but with all the facilities available to enjoy, the time will fly by.


The available positions when working in Africa in the oil industry are about the same as with other continents and countries. Positions can also be divided into two groups namely, the drilling workforce and the maintenance and service workforce.

The drilling workforce

Most rigs have two or more drilling teams. This team consists of a number of people that are responsible to extract the oil and include derrick men, drillers, roustabouts, tool pushers, roughnecks, roustabout pushers and a number of unskilled helpers. Other skilled workers needed on the rigs are welders, electricians, rig engineers, operators, motormen etc. When the drilling is done and the oil is brought to the surface, the processing engineers handle the processing of the oil.

The Maintenance and service workforce

The maintenance of the derrick, the deck and the hotel platform is quite a task. On a standard rig an estimated number of between 450 and 550 people enjoy 4 meals a day at different intervals. The laundry of all these people needs to be done and all the quarters need to be kept clean. There are leisure activities that have to be planned in the event of bad weather. The rigs require additional personnel to perform these tasks like kitchen personnel, chefs, servers, cleaners and general maintenance staff.

Working in Africa in the oil industry offers many job prospects for skilled and unskilled workers looking for a working environment that offers both a mental and physical challenge, above average salary, and a job that allows you to see the world.