Unlike a pipe fitter on land, a fitter on an offshore drilling platform will need to do their job with little backup, fewer hands and less chance for resupply. Add to this the fact that an oil or gas extraction facility consists to a large extent of pipes, and handles flammable materials, and you end up with a job that requires experience, focus and a thorough familiarity with safety practices (though at the same time, it pays much better than land-based work).
An oil rig pipe fitter is responsible for the smooth running and maintenance of the heating and ventilation (HVAC) system, oil drainage and supply pipes, power conduits, valves and much more. They must know how to rig, weld and braze pipes, and how to cut them.
Given the wide range of tasks they may be called on to do, oil rig pipe fitters need to be certified in a number of fields such as duct repair, jointing and rigging.
The certification requirements aren’t limited to professional fields – all people who work in remote areas and on ocean-based facilities need to pass an offshore survival and emergency training course which will teach them about traveling to and from installations, as well as sea survival skills and first aid.
Oil rig maintenance tools used by a pipe fitter include a large variety of drills, welding torches, clamps & guides, and pipe-cutting tools.
While small-diameter pipes made from relatively soft materials can be cut with a tool such as a manual tubing cutter, power tools are indispensable for large and tough pipes. An angle grinder can be used to quickly cut through a steel pipe of several inches in diameter; however, for maximum power and cutting precision, you can’t beat a pneumatic or hydraulic hacksaw.
A hacksaw gives a much cleaner cut than an angle grinder, and can cut much larger pipes as well. You can use a portable pneumatic hacksaw on site – Widder hacksaws deliver huge power in a package that weighs in at only 15 lbs – but you have to secure it to the work piece to prevent slippage and shifting. To do this, use Widder pipe clamps and guides.
Proper tools that give you fast and reliable performance can make the difference in a difficult job. Make sure you have the right equipment!