Chinese South China Sea Oil Rig Workers Take Helicopter to Work

Pictures of work & living conditions aboard China's first independently designed and built oil rig in the South China Sea spark netizen envy.

From NetEase:

South China Sea Oil Platform Workers Take Helicopter When Starting/Ending Shift

China’s first independently designed and constructed drilling platform “Ocean Oil 981” has succeeded in its first drilling operation in the South China Sea. Photographers visited and photographed the platforms’ 160 workers, who are required to work 28 days before taking a helicopter back to land to change shifts. The platform has in total 76 living quarters as well as recreational facilities and a communal kitchen.

The drilling platform is currently 320 kilometers southeast of Hong Kong, and workers on the the platform need to take a helicopter for over two hours.

Pictures of work & living conditions aboard China's first independently designed and built oil rig in the South China Sea spark netizen envy.

There are 76 living quarters equipped with bunk beds, private bathrooms, televisions, and telephone and Internet.

Pictures of work & living conditions aboard China's first independently designed and built oil rig in the South China Sea spark netizen envy.

The laundry room, which has staff responsible for cleaning clothes.

Pictures of work & living conditions aboard China's first independently designed and built oil rig in the South China Sea spark netizen envy.

Oil workers are having a meal, consisting of 14 courses.

Pictures of work & living conditions aboard China's first independently designed and built oil rig in the South China Sea spark netizen envy.

A chef in the storeroom.

Pictures of work & living conditions aboard China's first independently designed and built oil rig in the South China Sea spark netizen envy.

A specialized chef.

Pictures of work & living conditions aboard China's first independently designed and built oil rig in the South China Sea spark netizen envy.

The oil rig’s dining hall, every meal includes 8 hot dishes, 6 cold dishes, two kinds of porridge, an egg soup and a nourishing soup [a soup with ingredients considered nutritious and with medical/health benefits], as well as a midnight snack.

Pictures of work & living conditions aboard China's first independently designed and built oil rig in the South China Sea spark netizen envy.

The gym and table tennis room, totaling approximately 100 square meters.

Pictures of work & living conditions aboard China's first independently designed and built oil rig in the South China Sea spark netizen envy.

On “Offshore Oil 981”, oil workers work 28 days then take a helicopter back to land to change shifts, resting for 28 days before returning to the sea.

Comments from NetEase:

沙吹来的风 [网易山东省网友]:

Such good working conditions, work 28 days, rest 28 days.

网易浙江省网友 (responding to above):

Go spend a few days there and see, you’ll understand how hard it is.

满月的晚上 [网易广东省梅州市网友] (responding to above):

You mean having money but nowhere to blow your load?

金明焱 [网易辽宁省沈阳市网友]:

There’s a reason for high oil prices.


10 years ago I watched a news report that said Canadian coal mine workers flew on an airplane with their boss when changing shifts.

kanshie0 [网易浙江省杭州市网友]:

I want to go too…

luna007luna [网易广东省深圳市网友]:

With such fucking good working conditions, it’s no wonder China’s oil prices aren’t going down.

黄易资深临时工 [网易浙江省杭州市网友]:

Working continuously for 28 days is a good thing too, choosing to exert all your energy on work, otherwise idle hands [leads to sex]…

zhaorenyu1976 [网易浙江省嘉兴市网友]:

Not a bad work environment, I like it!


Eating Chinese food yet posing with a knife and fork…

pczhang7 [网易北京市网友]:

On the oil rig, the days are probably very dull and boring, even when resting its on the oil platform. Young people who go I reckon would be bored to death. Those above [in the pictures] are all already married, yeah? Otherwise if the young workers wanted to seek love, I reckon no girl would be willing to be with them. In one year there would be half a year you wouldn’t be able to see each other.

Could you maintain a relationship of only seeing each other every 28 days?
What do you think? Would you want to work on such an oil rig?

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Written by Joel

Joel is a reclusive writer based in Shanghai who took up blogging as a hobby one summer and never looked back. Former editor of Shanghaiist.

  • chloe

    omg staying up this late has paid off. woohoo sofa. sorry can’t escape the temptation for this stupid post. i’m sleep deprived…

    • chloe

      regarding the article, pretty fancy, compared to average chinese jobs.

      • mr. wiener

        Tough work though. The average fella wouldn’t be able to do it.

  • Shanghairen

    Clearly the main reason gas prices in China are so high.

    • BigJ

      Do you know how much money one of them things makes? After one day of work the company makes enough to pay everyones wages plus all that fancy shit they have. And the reason gas prices are high is becouse its in demand more then ever in china. Thats all.

  • Harland

    I love how this article (and the editor) act like this is something new under the sun. Workers have been doing this in the Gulf of Mexico for decades. And romantic? Hardly.

    Remember, this is a Chinese construction. It will be fine for the first six months and then begin falling apart and/or poisoning the residents.

    • anon

      Geez, I think you’re reading too much into it and being somewhat overly critical to boot. It’s a simple human-interest piece, news filler, good for a “so that’s what life is like on one of those” for Chinese netizens. And who said it was romantic?

      That said, this doesn’t seem like a popular piece of news on the Chinese internet. ..

      • Made In World

        I think Harland is referring to the comments from netizens when he talks about it being romantic.

      • It is a little popular because of the continuing China and Philippine situation and this is in the South China Sea.

    • Little Wolf

      SHHIIIIAAT… In between projects in Hawaii, I could always call my union rep and get on a crew that helicoptered to Kahoʻolawe Island, a former Navy firing range that was being reclaimed to give back to the Hawaiians, though it was just a 15 minute flight and they left every hour so I was always able to sleep in my own bed.
      Add to that my company supplied me with monthly passes for unlimited flights and it was not unusual to start my day on Maui, go to a morning briefing in Honolulu, head over to Kauiai to inspect a job, go back to Honolulu, check another job on Lanai, then back to Kauiai to put out a fire and get back to Maui with enough daylight left to surf some evening glass.
      So forgive to see this post and say “YAWN”

    • waihang

      add to that the UK and Norwegian workers in the North sea..

      but I can’t recall them use to stay for so long periods on the platform..

  • Luobo

    28 days apart is nothing. How many couples live in the same household and hardly talk to each other?

  • dim mak

    Everything’s so clean

    I wouldn’t mind being stuck on a tiny platform for a month with 160 men ^^

    • waihang

      the paradise for fags, right?!

      • mr. wiener

        They wouldn’t run short of lubricants.

        • Chunghwa

          Oil-based lubricants are a no-no, they break condoms and decompose sex toys. They can also become irritants as well. Water-based lubricants are good, but make sure your missus (or bed-bloke, whatever suits you) doesn’t fall asleep with something inside her, because the vaginal/rectal lining absorbs water, and once the lube dries up, it hurts like hell to take toys out. Silicone-based lubricants are also good, however they are quite difficult to wash out properly.

          • waihang

            Recalling from long ago reading what one sex adviser had to tell among the many queries received, one guy told he and his gf frequently used engine oil and wondered if it was ok…

          • mr. wiener

            Too bad they’re not drilling for KY:)

          • Dat Ankle

            You should do more sex ed. talks.

  • oOWOo

    Scary thing.

    1.) It will be easier for mainland China to digg for oil in “their” territory on the shores of other countries in the South China Sea.
    2.) Big international companies like BP have had major problems in the past with handling their oil rigs and have caused immense disasters. But when these things now are build by Chinese?

    • A gawd dang Mongolian

      Probably because the reserves in the sea are a lot easier to get the clearance to tap, and that BP is run by a bunch of idiots, so you cannot claim all companies are like them.

  • Jeff

    Wow those are some really nice washing machines!

    • Made In World

      Do they have dryers?

    • Made In World

      If not, where’s the laundry hanging off the side of the rig?

  • Song of the Article

    The Helicopter Song
    -some messed Swedish Band


  • kaka

    Is that independently designed like the high speed trains were independently designed, in so much as they were based on designs by Siemens and Bombardier?

    Still, if companies are still stupid enough to take the Joint-Venture route, they only have themselves to blame…

    Hopefully they’ve managed to “acquire” the safety policy and procedure guidelines as well this time. . .

    • maja75 (aka coala banana)

      china has safety policies/guidelines/procedures. The problem is that people don’t follow them or at lest not strict enough. The other problem is that no one really enforce them, and no one really audit them. But they are there, mostly simply copied from western standards and norms like Iso, Asi, DiN, ASAS…safety and security is a question of ethics and (social) responsibility, which are some sort of pre requirement for fruitful implementation. If both are missing or not developed enough, then the whole safety issue becomes useless. Written words are just guidelines and recommendations, they are no guaranty that the human factor will actually follow them.

  • FYIADragoon

    Couldn’t maintain that kind of relationship with a Western girl, she’d cheat on you if you’re away for over a week or so.

    • I’m going to assume that you’re not “Western” for a number of reasons.

      1. People outside of china don’t label themselves as “westerner”. Most will state their nationality, job, name or at the very least race.

      2. The term “westerner” while not necessarily negative doesn’t always have positive ideas connected to it, especially about sex and relationships (even though those stereotypes are either misinterpreted or vast generalizations).

      3. On closer inspection, the term “westerner” has no inherent definition. Are Germans Western? Greeks? Yanks? Canucks? Brits? French? Aussies? What connects them? Can’t be language or race or religion or culture.

      I don’t really care if someone calls me Western or not, doesn’t bother me. Same how it doesn’t bother me if you’re chinese or not, your statement is completely racist. Wondering where all those stalwart defenders against racism are…

      • dilladonuts

        jesus christ, your officially the most annoying noob on chinasmack. take it easy mr sensitive.

        • Hey look, it’s this guy… Again……….

          Hypocritical much?

    • Notorious

      If you keep your woman happy in the bedroom you’ll need not worry about that. Or find a good woman. plenty of them are, even if western women do have a bit of independence in them.

    • Little Wolf

      Ultimately….. this is the real “skill” (for lack of a better word)to working in China..or just about anywhere away from home. The ability to “hang” for long periods of time. Alot of people can do it for awhile but very few that can do it long-term. You need to be self-reliant and comfortable in your own skin. Able to keep yourself entertained to avoid homesickness. You need to accept that …yeah…your wife or gf might cheat on you. Tough shit…there’s no guarantee. That things don’t always go the way you’re used to and you need to be creative and able to improvise ways to get things done. On a Bahamas project I was on there wasn’t a single bag of cement on the whole island for over a month(well, actually there was a whole shipload of cement sitting on the docks but the hotel hadn’t paid Customs their little red envelope) but I still managed to work around that and complete the job on time. I once had a guy on my crew in Hawaii and got him a sweet deal…union scale wages ($25 US clamolas per hour, free hotel room right on the beach and $235 food stipend per week and use of the company cars. After about a week, he called his girlfriend in LA one night and she didn’t answer the phone and he flipped out and was convinced his “lamby-kins” was cheating on him and he was on the next plane outta there even though I explained perhaps “baby-doll” just lost her phone or something and besides if she was cheating on him, he was way better hanging at the beach in Hawaii and making a damn good salary and as all expenses were paid he could save almost every penny of it.(that project was almost a year and he could have went home with a nice little nest egg) What a fucking loser.

  • Cleo

    At least the soup and the food prep should be done onshore and then transported. This sound messy. You will be trapped with vermin! It’s a pity there can’t be a separate vessel just for food services and dining.

  • diverdude

    can they smoke onboard ?

    • mr. wiener

      It is a chinese oil rig, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the crew living areas are all smoking.

  • whiskersthecat

    Yes, welcome to oil rigs and drilling ships, where taking helicopters to work and having the whole month on, month off arrangement (or whatever time period) is common.


    very normal and and working conditions are not great … is not like they can go home every night.

    anyway very curious who build it ………….any company name there ?

    I was working for one offshore company i hope they did it because they where very nice people

  • alex

    the best chinese comment was the one pointing out they’re posing with knife and forks.

  • Rod

    Typical. An article on the South China Sea Oil Rig and 80% of the photos are food related.

  • maja75 (aka coala banana)

    28 days shifts, really ??

    the usual shifts on oil platforms are 14 days with 10-14 days rest days in between. Day shifts last 12 hours minimum. After 10 days the performance goes slightly but steady downwards, thats the reason shift exchanges are after 14 days. I found 28 days and the productiveness of it questionable. Its still a risky job and concentration on what one is doing becomes top priority. Less concentrated people result in more risks for everyone. On the other side its china, not really a good base for rational thought.

    And why is the helicopter mentioned in such a context ? What people thought until now ? That the workers swim or paddle over to the platform ?

    • donscarletti

      If this was a bar, I would walk up to you and say:

      “I saw The Nude Maja in the Museo del Prado, I am hoping to see her tonight too.”

      Does this line work?

      • maja75 (aka coala banana)


        it wouldn’t work (well most likely not), but since art is one of my “weaknesses”, (you know the ones which never hurt)..we will never know ! La maja desnuda has of course an advantage over La maja vestida ! Either way, and i am sure someone who knows Goya and his works will know, that the desnuda painting get him into trouble with the inquisition. One more reason to leave religion out of education and politics. Luckily the paintings survived which at the end gave you one more tool of wisdom and ethics in your undoubtedly huge arsenal of scarletti’s ways of ‘how to approach a lady’….


  • Alex L

    Mmmm. 28 days at sea? Hopefully they are outside the Great Firewall and can access some porn. Or maybe they fly in some girls?? haha.

    • maja75 (aka coala banana)

      does chinas firewall prevents accessing porn sites too ? half of our staff are watching porn during working hours and lunch breaks. Seems that it works for them ?

      But, you brought up a good point, regarding the sexual aspects of a 28 day shift and it can be considered one more reason why 28 day shifts are unproductive and unethical. They lead to more aggressiveness and frustration, which then again leads to all kind of errors which can result deadly on a such an environment like an oil platform.

      I once worked for a big supplier of drilling equipment and we had our staff on all kind of oil drilling platforms worldwide. Thats the reason i never ever heard of shifts which last longer then 14 days. It neither makes sense to let people work for 28 days or let them rest for 28 days. Both would be completely unreasonable from a business, safety and performance perspective….

  • Paul

    This is extremely common in Australia, only the rest periods are shorter, or consist of 9-5 office work with rest time only issued in lieu of Sundays and Saturdays.

  • chris

    I’m suprised a chinese with their pea sized monkey brains can operate a helicopter, I wonder how many crash a year lol.

    [Note: Please do not impersonate other people.]

    • Ian

      dude, that’s some wonderful insight and very constructive comment. *(this is sarcasm in case your pea sized monkey brain don’t get it)

    • mr. wiener

      I’m surprised with your pea sized monkey brain you can actually use a computer. Well done! It always warms my heart to see people with disabilities trying so hard.
      Who’s a special boy then?

      • Brett Hunan

        That is slim Shady taking the identity of koreaBANG moderators…

        Steve doesnt post on chinaSMACK

        • mr. wiener

          I thought so. My comments to young master Slim still a apply.

          • chris

            We all know chinese people can’t drive imagine them in a helicopter. These filthy mongrels need to be put down Mr. Weiner!

            [Note: Please do not impersonate other people.]

          • mr. wiener

            Not only are you a bigoted fool, you are also a liar and an identity thief.

          • chris

            How rude! I’m as genuine as US currency! You may try to act PC but you and I both know China needs to be nuked, hopefully they get into a thermo-nuclear retaliation war with India and we can kill both of these disgusting whelp races.

            [Note: Please do not impersonate other people.]

          • mr. wiener

            tic. tic. tic. That’s your 15 minutes done. Too bad you couldn’t have done something more worthwhile with the time.

          • slim shady

            small wiener why am i always on your mind

          • mr. wiener

            Not on my mind..I’m just sitting by the river watching the current flow by….waiting.

  • Hacienda

    how come in every discussion, there is always patriotic sounding person (i’m assuming is a dude), who manages to complain about chinese women picking a foreigner over a chinese?
    it’s too obvious and pathetic.
    china better allow porn access to its citizens.

    • HFl

      they do!

  • Dat Ankle

    Much cleaner then I thought it would be, but maybe thats because its new. I wanna see if it keeps up in a few years.

  • typingfromwork

    That does look like a damn nice place to work.

    If you’ve got connections.

  • B

    How soon until the ‘China-quality’ shows and the thing starts leaking and explodes? Add on corrupt officials who skimmed funds and inadequate training and the situation becomes even more interesting. Does this remind you of any high-speed trains, bridges and other domestic construction projects?

    • Alex L

      If it does explode, at least they will be above ground and not in some deep dark coal mine….:-p