Working in the European Oil Industry

The major role players in the European oil industry are the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, with the UK producing the majority of Europe?s crude oil.

Although oil fields are found on a specific continent oil companies from all over the world will drill on a continent if they are granted permission. This means that even though you apply for a position with a company in Europe, you might end up working in Africa.

Working in the European oil industry or on any continent should be an informed decision.

You should familiarise yourself:

  • With the sector
  • What it is all about
  • The expected economic growth
  • The history of the industry
  • Different employment opportunities
  • Work conditions
  • Salary

You need to be sure that this sector can provide an environment that will allow you to reach and surpass your personal mission and vision statement.


The oil industry is divided into three primary divisions namely, upstream, midstream and downstream.


The upstream division focuses on finding oil resources and the production of these recourses. It is also referred to as the exploration and production sector.


The midstream division mainly focuses on the processing, storage and transportation of this commodity.


The downstream division is the division that gets the product to the customers - starting with oil refineries, up until the distribution and retail companies. The downstream division provides consumers with fuel, plastics, insect killers, diesel, antifreeze etc.

Oil is not only found on land. Some of the biggest oil fields are found underneath the ocean floor. Oil sites on land are referred to as the onshore sector and sites in the ocean are referred to as the offshore sector.

Offshore sector

This is no normal working environment. You will find yourself miles away from the main land on a rig that operates day and night. It will only be shut down in the event of a storm, if there is a technical problem with the equipment, or if the rig has to be moved. Work conditions are harsh and you are constantly exposed to the elements. The staff turnover in the offshore sector is extremely high and companies tend to keep a lot of personnel on record.

A rig is called a derrick and is staffed by two crews that relief each other in shifts. A crew consists of between 19 to 55 people that operate the rig. This does not include support staff that is responsible for catering, cleaning, laundry etc. A rig can have up to a 110 people working on it at any time. Special projects can have up to 1100 people working on a rig.

Requirements for working in the European oil industry

To work in this demanding sector you need to be medically fit without any medical conditions that require constant medical attention. You have to have 20/20 vision and normal hearing. You cannot be younger than 18 or older than 55 years of age. Employers don't require a person to be a European citizen.

You will require a visa, a work permit and a passport, but once you have been appointed by a company they will assist you with the necessary permits and documentation.

Benefits of employment in this sector

Most companies pay their workers in US dollars and provide them with free accommodation as well as all meals. The meals have to meet international standards and usually consist of fruit, salads, and meat dishes prepared from A grade meat, vegetables, and even pudding. Travel expenses are paid and include a return air ticket home. Workers are provided with the overalls or uniforms they work in and all other safety gear. Cleaning services and laundry are also part of the package. The only expenses workers have are buying their own toiletries, sweets and cigarettes if they smoke.

Oil fields in Europe

Employment in the following areas can be expected:

  • Azerbaijan - South Caspian Basin and Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli
  • Kazakhstan ? Tengiz; Karachaganak; Kashagan, and Kurmangazy
  • Norway - Viking Graben; Ekofisk; Statfjord; Gullfaks;Oseberg, and Snorre
  • Helgeland ? Norne, and Draugen
  • Russia ? Samotlor;Volga-Ural; Romashkino, and Sakhalin
  • Germany - Mittelplate
  • United Kingdom - Alba; Andrew; Auk; Scorpion; Beatrice; Brae; Brent; Bruce; Buchan; Buzzard; Clair; Claymore; Cormorant; Dunlin; Eider; Foinaven; Fulmar; Gannet; Harding; Kittiwake; Magnus; Osprey; Piper; Shearwater;Tern, and Wytch.

Working in the European oil industry is an experience beyond words. Flexibility, good technical skills, the ability to work with people from different cultural backgrounds, and determination to stick it out are required. The pay is excellent and many opportunities exist for career promotion. People with qualifications in engineering and previous rig work experience are always in demand. A word of caution though, there are many scams for employment. Make sure that you check the credibility of a recruiter before parting with your money.