Dispatches From the Field: Jordan Cawsey

By Marta Nelson, Communication Specialist – Member Media with CAODC

Name: Jordan Cawsey

Current Position: Driller

Company: Beaver Drilling Ltd.

Number of years in the oil patch: 9

Describe your path to the rigs:

I had heard I could get a high paying job in Alberta, so a couple of my close friends, we drove out to Alberta. I’m from B.C. and when I came to Alberta, I didn’t know exactly what a drilling rig was, I didn’t know what the job entailed, and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Beaver Drilling hired me on and I’ve been with them ever since. I started out as a Leasehand, I worked my way up to Driller, and I’ve been drilling for about 4 years. They’ve been really good to me.

You’ve worked in a lot of different locations this year – do you like moving around?

It would be nice to be set up in one area, get used to one spot, I don’t necessarily like moving around a lot, but it’s allowed me to see a lot of Alberta. I try to stay positive!

A lot has changed in regards to technology on the rigs – how is it different than it used to be?

About three years ago, I started drilling on Beaver Drilling’s new rig 15AC. It’s a fully automated walking triple, an AC electric rig with an Amphion chair. The technology has advanced so much, I’ve been working for just under 10 years, and from what I’ve seen, it’s incredible. When I started drilling it was on a conventional tele rig with a break handle, one of the older rigs in our fleet. Then I was given the chance to drill on the new rig 15AC. I went down to Houston and I took a week of training on an Amphion chair, and running a cyber-chair compared to a break handle is a world of difference. It’s really nice, it’s taking a lot of the back-breaking labour and replacing that with hydraulics and electric equipment and it’s great – I love it. I don’t know how much longer I would have lasted on that old break handle, but on this new rig, I just love it.

Where do you see the technology going?

That’s hard to answer! If you’d asked the same questions a couple of years ago, they’d never have seen it going the way that it has. I think you’re going to see a lot more electric rigs, a lot more Amphion chairs, and a lot more iron roughnecks – that’s the way the industry is going. There are plans at our company to build a lot more of those rigs and I think that automated rigs are the way of the future, absolutely.

What do you think about how the industry is perceived? Do you ever encounter negativity?

My dad in particular, he loves that I’m out on a drilling rig. Why should you have to defend yourself for going out and making an honest living and working hard? Sure, there are some people out there that have an opinion, but my family, my friends, I don’t have to defend it.

There are going to be mixed opinions, of course. There are people that have a bad impression of the industry or a bad experience working in the industry, but overall, we work hard to protect the environment and to work safe. Safety is huge now. There’s a different mindset, safety and protecting the environment.

Tell me more about safety on the job.

Safety is by far number one. It’s all about safety, it’s huge. Especially the company I’m working for, safety comes before everything. Even before productivity, because the last thing you want is an injury. You don’t want to hurt anybody, and it’s bad business, frankly. The safest rigs are the most productive rigs.

Working as a driller, do you have any tips for dealing with seasonal employment?

Save your money! You make good money [on the rigs], save and budget for it. I’ve been doing it long enough, it’s always been seasonal work and it’s just common sense to me. We get paid pretty well. I love my couple months off over spring break up, but you have to save your money and plan for it.

Any advice to people coming up on the rigs?

For a new guy, my only advice is don’t take things personally. You put that many guys out in the bush and at times it can be a little hostile, but just work hard. We’re all out there for the same reason, to make a living. Some people love it, but it’s not for everybody.