After writing my previous entry, I did a couple of internet searches on OIM (Offshore Installation Manager). I found surprisingly little information on the topic so I thought a description might make a good blog post.
The OIM is king on an offshore drilling rig or production platform for half of the year. As defined by the Coast Guard in the code of federal regulations (10.107 CFR 46)
“Offshore installation manager or OIM means an officer restricted to service on MODUs. An assigned offshore installation manager is equivalent to a master on a conventional vessel and is the person designated by the owner or operator to be in complete and ultimate command of the unit”
Most OIMs in the Gulf of Mexico are at least 40 years of age, southern, obese, and pulling in salaries that are in the $100k to $200k per year range. Not bad considering that few of them have more than a high school education.
To become an OIM, one must fight his way through a hierarchy of 5-7 positions to prove himself capable of managing an asset that can be worth up to a billion dollars. Often times, the men that reach the top of this hierarchy are dominant men who quickly grow accustomed to doing whatever they want.
Often, problems stem from the fact that the OIM is only on the rig for 2-4 weeks at a time, after which his relief replaces him for another 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, one OIM makes a decision that stands for his 2-4 week “hitch”. When OIM #2 shows up on the rig, he decides that the other OIM’s decision was foolish and abolishes it. A classic example is a welding project that one OIM completes just to have the next one tear it down. This cycle of building and destroying the same project continues until one of the OIMs tires of the game or their supervisor hears of it and shuts it down.
One of the most important jobs of a good manager is to assure that the OIMs work together even though they only meet in passing a few times a month. Silly games like the one above are degrading to the entire crew. Imagine being the poor welder remaking the same project for 6 months in a row.
The problem with managing OIMs is that they are 100′s of mile away in the middle of the ocean. The manager’s main communications to the rig are daily phone calls with the OIM, who can paint the story however he wants.
Most of what is written here is based on personal experience. I have worked solely in the Gulf of Mexico, so my OIM observations are probably skewed by the fact that my OIMs have all been American. Please comment with your observations of the OIMs and any discrepancies you might see in this post.
- Wikipedia’s OIM description
- Transocean is by far the world’s largest drilling contractor. This is their job description for an OIM.
- Video discussion of the OIM’s responsibilities in relation to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (includes comically foul language from an Englishman)
- OIM license requirements as layed out by the USCG (United States Coast Guard)
- Interesting study done in the UK on The selection and training of OIMs for crisis management