‘Mudlogger’ might sound like the name of a terrible death metal band, but it’s actually an incredibly important job in the oil industry. Mudloggers play a vital role in the acquisition of ‘black gold’.
These geological experts are responsible for gathering, processing and monitoring information pertaining to drilling operations. They don’t only collect data using specialist data acquisition techniques – they also collect oil samples and detect gases using state-of-the-art equipment, such as chromatographs and binocular microscopes.
The information amassed by these guys is analysed, logged and then communicated to the team that is responsible for the physical drilling of the oil.
Without the help of the mudlogger, the drilling operations would be less efficient, less cost-effective and much more dangerous. Indeed, the mudlogger is vital for preventing hazardous situations, such as well blowouts.
They may also be responsible for performing some maintenance work on the rig. They also provide vital assistance to wellsite geologists and write detailed reports based on the data that is collected.
Salary & benefits
Mudloggers can earn a decent wage. Indeed, once they are fully trained, they can earn between £40,000 and £60,000 per annum. If you secure a job with a major oil company, you will understandably earn more money.
The nature of the mudlogging profession means that your outgoings will also be pretty minimal. Since you will tend to work offshore on oil rigs, your food, travel and accommodation expenses will usually be paid for by your employer. Not bad, eh?
When you’re on duty, you will most likely be required to work seven days a week. Shifts of 12 hours or longer are common. The intense nature of this work, however, is offset by extended periods of leave. For instance, you might be required to work offshore on a rig for two or three weeks, but then you will be given a fortnight off when you’re back on dry land.
Most job opportunities for mudloggers are available on rigs in the North Sea, or abroad in places such as the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. Consequently, international travel is a common occurrence in this line of work.
Typically, you will need an undergraduate degree in geology to start a career as a mudlogger. However, candidates with degrees in physics, geochemistry, chemistry, environmental geoscience, maths or engineering may also be accepted.
A postgraduate degree is not essential, but certainly wouldn’t harm your chances of finding work.
Training & progression
Oil companies who employ mudloggers will provide entry-level employees with a mixture of ‘on-the-job’ training and expert training courses, which cover different aspects of drilling operations. A major part of the training will focus on the use of specialist computer software.
More importantly, mudloggers will also need to undergo in-depth safety and survival training.
As you progress in your career, you may become a senior data engineer with team leading responsibilities. Some mudloggers eventually make the jump to become a wellsite geologist, while others simply become self-employed and pursue freelance job opportunities.