Everyday life of Ukraine's well drillers

Author : Olena Holubeva

Source : 112 Ukraine correspondent has spent a day at the country's largest oil field and learned how representatives of one of the most “masculine” occupation work
23:16, 11 September 2018


September 9, Ukraine has marked the Day of employees of the oil and gas industry sector. A correspondent of has spent a day at the country's largest oil field and learned how representatives of one of the most “masculine” occupation - oil and gas drillers - work

Half of our materials, shot at Ukraine’s largest Bugruvativske oil field in Sumy region, were accompanied by a burst of male’s laughter.


"A bad sign? Yes, the bad sign is a woman near a well. But in your case, we say to ourselves: "These are not women, these are specialists!" So now let us proceed.

Related: Ukrainian oil and gas producers to expand gas extraction

After a month of preparation, a hydraulic fracturing of the formation is planned at one of the wells of the Bugruvativske field. The depth of the well is 4045 meters, the packer (sealing device) is lowered to a depth of 3884 meters. 110 cubic meters of gel will be pumped іn the reservoir under pressure. The gel is prepared directly on site to prevent destructuring.

The purpose of the operation is to create cracks, through which the process of oil inflow from the formation into the well is activated. The daily debit of the well before the repair was 0.3 tons of oil. After the hydraulic fracturing of the reservoir, it is expected to increase to 8 tons per day. For about an hour and a half last the process – from the beginning of the fluid injection to the immediate fracturing, the break lasts for about 40 minutes.


At this time, all the employees are removed, except for the operators of the units. The gel goes into the reservoir under strong pressure, so the situation is quite unpredictable can happen. There were cases when people in other fields suffered serious injuries during the fluid injection.

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Bugruvativske field is the largest in Ukraine in terms of oil reserves. Initial reserves of the field were estimated at 53 million tons. According to Geoinform, the remaining reserves as of the beginning of 2018 are 8.7 million tons of oil and 375 million cubic meters of oil gas. Bugruvativske field has been operating since 1984. Now the special permission to use it belongs to the semi-state "Ukrnafta" company: the share of oil received from the field is 22% in the total volume of the company's production.

In the well area, the wind is really strong. It creates huge clouds of dust from the ground, covering your smartphone screen with a thick layer, flows up your nose and throat, so you become thirsty all the time.

“This strong wind has been blowing for days. Be it rain, snow, winter, blizzard – people come here and do their work in the fresh air, sometimes even too fresh,” Viacheslav Krasnorudsky, the acting head of the well repair shop.

Due to the huge physical exertion on the wells, only men work here. Women take some engineering and technical positions, there are geologists, but none of these women work in the field. The daily shift lasts for 11 hours - a day after it, an 11-hour night shift comes. There are two lunch breaks for half an hour.

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“We take food with us, but what can you take in this heat? Today, for example, fill up on bread,” the workers share. Even if there is a technological break, you cannot sleep during your shift. After a night shift, there is a day for sleeping.

“This is our 21st day in the field. They allegedly cannot keep us here for more than a month, they should let us go home for a couple of days," the guys from Western Ukraine say.

They say that now the company is renting a normal two stars hotel. Previously, they lived in a building with one shower per floor and without hot water. They also complain about low subsistence allowance – 5 USD per day.


Many people work in their positions for 15 years or more. There are also dynasties when one team employs a father and son. The staff is just like a family, these people are constantly together. Many workers' watches are united by a strong male friendship - they rest together with their families, celebrate holidays, and share woes, helping each other.

The most prestigious works on the field are driller and the assistant driller. Salaries, depending on the level, are 370-440 USD, but taking into account all allowances, an employee might even get 550 USD. To become an assistant driller, you need to finish two-month courses.

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Assistant driller has the most physically hard work. People work with metal: twist pipes, rods. All the details are of a huge weight, moreover, people work in an open field in any weather. The driller is responsible for the downhole work in the well, he also controls the muffling process. This is a more prestigious, semi-engineering, semi-professional specialty.

Compared to other activities, payment for oil and gas well workers is bearable. And this is a bit offensive, especially given the marginality of the industry. There is no special competition in the industry: up to ten more commercial companies produces oil, except for Ukrnafta, which is the largest producer in Ukraine. Oil sales in Ukraine have nowhere to go - the only Kremenchug refinery in the country is owned by the co-owners of Ukrnafta Privat Group. The bulk of oil products is imported.


New special permits have not been issued for several years, the squares are not reconnoitered. At already existing fields, new wells are not even bored by Ukrnafta. Why? The company constantly has problems with the extension of special permits. Political swings have been lasting for several years. For now, state policy regarding the extractive industry does not stabilize, unless conditions are created to increase the demand for oil, courageous people in overalls and their families cannot count on the growth of salaries.

But they remain in Ukraine and celebrate their professional day on the second Sunday of September. At least, as of today…

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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