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The industry is busy, companies are beginning to run short for personnel and yet the rates seem to be stagnant. Is this due to Agency lethargy? As they seem to take more interest in their company base, than the personnel where the percentages come from.
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In total agreement to your comments. The fact that companies are unable to properly cost projects, should not be reflected in the current rates. It must be the only sector of the industry where offshore rates are going backwards considering the level of onshore office rates and company profits. How can the big Oil companies announce such huge profits, yet this is not reflected with rate increases?
Gina McLauchlan
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Lets Face it too many people are going out too work for poor day rates. The Industry was flooded with people from so called ROV training schools promised the earth with no or very little technical background at all. Told if they cough up there money at the training school they would be experts and the Industry needs you. Then found that they could not get work after training so offered to go out for next to nothing. The Companies must have been rubbing there hands.

I was out in the Gulf of Mexico and I have never worked with so many poor techs in my life (but apparently they were all specialists in there own fields). Always on the phone to the makers whilst the Brits got it fixed.

Have to admit though there are a few good techs out in the gulf too.

The Problem is there will always be some one who will work for less than you, do longer trips to save on flights, it could be good money where they come from.

You just have to look at the Merchant Navy it has been sold off to the 3rd World for years now.

Penetrator
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There are good techs and bad techs everywhere in this business! Likewise there are people who will work for less than others. I've turned down low dayrates on principal and soon discovered you can't eat principals! It's down to supply and demand at the end of the day. You will find over the next few months that there are not enough ROV people to meet the demands of the industry as during the last couple of years many people have left the industry because of the downturn. This has happened before and it will happen again. Personally my dayrate has increased every year for the last five years and I think it will continue to do so.
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I frequently read moans about day rate's, time off, trainee's, foreigners etc. Guys who have been doing this work forever usually post these. Joined the industry in the lucrative days of Divers etc. (I will openly admit to being only in my 6th year, just to put the record straight).

Managers and Bean counters have seen where and how to save dosh! Like it or not, it is not going to change! Everyone wants to protect their livelihoods but Companies will employ the cheapest from wherever is most convenient. As long as they can get the job done, the Client reasonably happy and still have a system left (although, all three at the same time is becoming a bit of a skill!).

Take a look at the entire business world, exactly the same! This does not only affect the ROV Empire. Not a great comparison, but I spoke to someone in India today. Sorting out a claim on my home insurance with Directline! I am sure you get my point, Companies already making a packet, wanting to make even more!

The hardship element of working offshore / away from home has been eroded. More and more people have to work away during the week, or commute long distances due to property prices; effectively cancelling out the normal life we all refer to! I get more quality time at home than them.

My questions are; do guys who have been in this industry a long time, really expect companies not to employ African locals, South Africans, Brazilians etc and only employ Ex-pats and pay them wages at levels comparing 15 years ago? Would a new start Ex-pat trainee (or Pilot/tech for that matter) really justify the difference in pay to that of a South African, Brazilian etc?

I plan to be around this industry for a few more years and I am accepting this state of affairs. It is not ideal but it is here to stay. Unions are never going to happen! Companies will squeeze and squeeze. There is too much one-upmanship for any kind of stand. There will however, be plenty of talk!

My intention here is not to annoy. Just starting a thread of a discussion. I am pretty sure I will get abuse from the usual suspects though, "Bring it on"!

BD
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I cant see rates rising even though the industry is busy. The problem is over the last couple of years we have had more and more people joining the industry from the countries we are working in. They are prepared to work for $200 a day (if I lived in x country where the monthly wage was $50 I would) so the companies are going to employ them, it makes sense they can increase their profit margins. For the last year or so I have been Sup on a job on xxx/day and the techs (good techs 1 Indian and 1 Local) have been on $150 and $200.

The only way forward is to get these guys out of working direct for the companies (on crap money)and go through the agencies. That would set kind of a minimum wage.
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The agencies could do more to support their sub-contractors though, instead of bowing down to the clients every time. After all, the guys offshore bring in the money, which keeps the agencies going.
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We are led to believe that some of the agencies are now turning down work as they are unable to provide personnel, as all on their books are out to work. What happens when all the agencies are in this state?
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Thanks for your comments Pondlife. You're one of the lucky ones to have a steady increase on your rate over the past 5 years, most are stating quite the reverse of this. In fact some guys complain of lower rates than what they were receiving several years ago.

SURELY THERE ARE MORE ROV OPERATORS OUT THERE WITH SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT THIS?
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Lets make hay while the sun shines it will never be as good as days gone by. There is still a good living to be made and if you are any good you will always get a good day rate. There are a lot of good techs out there who will work for poor rates but are not willing to make decisions. I plan to keep going in this industry for at least another 10 years and will not be working for less than what I am worth. There is a fine line between day rates and a decent job on the beach these days.

Penetrator
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Aabody

To be serious for a second......ok a few more...the way I see it is that it is the technology that has contributed to the decline in rates as much as anything (along with other factors like the major players locked in a race to the bottom as far as contract bids are concerned). The job I'm currently on is on a rig which has on hire, at a standby rate, a piece of equipment which amounts to a PC and some software, which is costing £900 per day whilst on standby. This standby rate increases to £1300 per day in use. This equipment is used for displaying cartoon-like graphics of the rig, its speed, heading etc. during rig moves. Bearing in mind that the last completion on this rig took 120 days that amounts to plenty of standby moolah to me, for what amounts to an off-the-shelf PC, a bit of re-tooling in VB.net and an effective sales department.
In contrast, the ROV spread (operational) has an effective day-rate of £750.....full-on work class, TMS, A-frame LARS, Slingsby manips, survey spread and tooling and the system is none of yer Techno Notice, Singapore, Rigworker re-hash either.
All this means that the real squeeze has to be on people. However, the increase in personnel rates accross the board has been phenomenal. It is amazing how much an operator can charge their client for an 'experienced operator'. I know my hire rate is nearly as much as the whole spread on this rig and the other 'experienced operators' are not much less. Needless to say none of our day-rates or salaries are reflective of this. In fact I have worked with people supplied by certain agencies whose CV's includes jobs I know for an absolute verifiable fact that they were not on because I was. When quized about this the unfortunates had no knowledge of their doctored CV's and stated that they were in fact trainees or had little experience, a situation which only became apparent to me when arriving onboard. I remember one instance recently where, of a crew of eight westerners (Brits, Aussies and Yanks; agency and salaried) and four chinese guys, the most experienced had about a years experience and sixty hours piloting time and I was forced to have him as night-shift supervisor, as the rest had no experience at all. What was also extra galling in this situation was that said 'experienced operator', as a graduate of Wray Castle or some other scamming joint, really believed that he was up to the job more than my big sister. This resulted in me, as OPM flying and fixing the sub for twenty hours a day, dealing with the client and planning bunkers, food, crew logistics, putting on badages and generally 'kissing it better'. while most of those around me discussed how they were going to word their pay-rise request at the end of the job.
In my opinion, this is the real reason for rate stagnation. In a crew of six these days, your lucky if there's one guy (or guyess; Hello Marga et.al....) per shift who has any experience and the rest, as far as the experienced people are concerned are fillers. Unfortunately, 'the fillers' expectations are invariably very high due in part to the espoused worldviews perpetuated by low levels of 'technical traning' and assessments. 'I've done the Pilot Techs course but I'll be a supervisor next week after I do that course'. The competency schemes that most companies have adopted now set the bar of technical understanding and engineering requirements of ROV systems and remote technologies very low indeed. It's years since I met anyone that even bothered to measure the ends of co-ax's for crimp terminations (a situation which has led to my current employer declaring that the crimp type BNC is too difficult to field terminate and because of the high rate of termination failures will not supply them....!!!!!)
There also appears to be an unending supply of armed forces redundancies which help keep the 'fillers' replenished until their aspirations exceed their abilities and they decide to move on to the day-rate/agency market, for a tenner a day less that last years crop of fillers.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that the offshore world is now used to ROV's and sees no need to stretch the parameters of what is possible and therfore the situaion becomes who wants to pay for a Ferrari when I could get a Fiat (or RACAL Sealion) or why pay for an engineer when a fitter (who invariably thinks he's an engineer anyway) will do. We are no longer 'new'; and the major players see technical advance only in refining traditional modes of ROV operations. Witness row upon row of Oceaneerings generic fleet ready to mobilze at a moments notice to replace systems that might need something more than the comps topped up. This lack of technical ambition coupled with huge margins on people locked in a race to the bottom, have led to the current paradigm.
My solution is that the technical standards have got to be raised and the parameters of operations stretched into the commercial arena and not just confined to ill advised AUV projects or obscure academia. As an illustration the ubiquity of Schilling manipulators has nothing whatsoever to do with their complexity of construction or manufacture (considerable despite the age of the technology nowadays) or their price (also considerable for a T III) it has to do with innovation and design and other subjective qualities which don't appear on the companies bottom line but without which we would have no ROV industry in the first place.
So, dear readers and trainees, the questions that need asking are not so much to do with what type of self-amalgamating tape is best but why are we using such antiquated practices in the first place and what needs to be done to drive remote technology forward in order that genuine innovation (and unique services worth paying for) are not lost. After all we aren't just selling hamburgers are we?

Regular Fonands
Swazer
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Swazer

Mr Steve Cullen I presume?!! It's been a while........interesting posts on ROVworld, thanks for the entertainment!!

Wink


Last edited by ginamc on 19:17 Wed 13 Dec 06; edited 1 time in total
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So now we have heard from Swazer, who clearly has too much time on his hands! Has not looked at classic Fiat prices lately, as a 500 is now going for the price of a Ford Focus and Ferraris are still dropping in price! Maybe we should all drop our offshore rates and become cheap ferrari operators.

Joking aside, we have been told why the rates may have stagnated over the past few years, but are the experienced operators, prepared to continue carrying the "fillers" just for the sakes of companies being awarded contracts because of rock bottom tenders?

It is fair to say that the ROV industry has not progressed with technology. Look at how many systems still go out on "bang-bang" hydraulics. It seems the Norwegians are the only ones prepared to spend money to take the industry forward and they historically pay the best rates and look after their personnel. Okay, so you have to pay heavy taxes to their government, which is relative to the rates, but at least they take the "diverless" story seriously.

Unlike most of the British companies, who seem dead set to shaft you despite the rising cost of living. Most of the companies have armies of managers in every department, all getting fatter sitting in comfy chairs, slagging off the offshore personnel, telling everyone, "it was not like that in my days" Let's face it, they all get re-chipped anyway, when they move onto office-land. How easy it is to forget, sit back and dream of the dinosaur era.

The cost of cardboard has reduced considerably over the past few years, maybe cut-outs should be reduced as well!
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I don't understand why Client Reps don't feel short-changed! They are aware what we get paid from what it costs them. Or do they really feel they are getting it cheap enough anyway?

Also, why do they put up with weak crews consisting of one experienced guy and two "fillers", often resulting in the poor guy doing everything to keep the job going? The reason he does this is down to professionalism and ethics.

The Management take this for granted, as they are only interested in the monthly invoice and the client not getting on their case. The term "burying heads in the sand" springs to mind. Until there is a major calamity, then the poor guy carries the can for the lot, while the fillers say, "I was on the winch" and "I didn't see a thing, I was writing in the log"!

BD
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In any industry, what you are actually worth money-wise is what the market will pay, no matter how unjust, unfair, or at odds with your actual skills when compared to a similarly skilled job in another industry. If you are undervalued (or feel so) by the ROV companies, then why not take your skills elsewhere - many onshore jobs or non-ROV overseas engineering jobs pay as well or better, due to skill shortages in other industries, depending on where you live.

There seems to be very little negotiating leverage available, even to experienced quality guys with good track records with the companies.
The agencies and also the ROV operating companies currently don't seem to hold much bargaining power, due to the client operating companies squeezing rates for personnel and equipment over the past few years.
It is quite incredible that rates have not improved now that demand is outstripping supply, but its a fact, for whatever reason. This situation is obviously unsustainable, as the ROV and many other service companies have pointed out to the operators. It is stifling development and investment in new technology, equipment, personnel etc.

Any sort of collective bargaining (e.g. union) is also never going to happen, outside of a few areas where already established. The market will always win eventually. The operating companies seem to be artificially controlling the market, it will be interesting to see how long they can continue to do so.

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