Field Work and Personal Transportation

The successful execution of subsea projects is highly driven by field personnel travelling to external work sites to conduct System Integration Tests (SIT), Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT), and by successfully troubleshooting equipment at a client’s site prior to it being deployed offshore. This equally extends to travelling to the port of call from where the equipment will mobilize from.

        The result of the aforementioned: having to travel extensively to multiple sites. This, in turn, raises the following questions: Is it best to use your Privately Owned Vehicle (POV) when performing field work? Or is it best to utilize a company vehicle? While both options have advantages over the other, this article will provide answers to the first question. This is due to the fact that there are multiple considerations to be had, and pros and cons to carefully consider, which can be dizzying to Oil and Gas professionals that are new to field service work. This article will intimately detail the different arrangements offered when using your personal vehicle, and to how pick the most economically conducive arrangement.

Figure 1: Field personnel mobilizing equipment at port of call: Personal vehicle in backdrop 

Mile Reimbursement

        The mile reimbursement option works by paying a predetermined amount per mile when using your POV.  In this backdrop, the compensation structure is driven by either the government or a company’s policy.

Pros: The use of your own vehicle can be advantageous if your vehicle is paid for, uses minimal gas and is in good working condition. Furthermore, certain companies will not only pay for mileage, but will equally issue a fuel/company card. Thus, it is not uncommon for service personnel to make supplemental income from this option. It is important to note that if you opt for the reimbursement option, that POV be reliable, especially when assigned to critical and time sensitive projects, since failing to arrive on time—due to vehicle failure—can affect a project’s timeline and execution. 

Cons: The drawbacks of this option lie in the fact that you are responsible for your vehicle’s maintenance and wear and tear, while equally having to cover the cost of fuel—should a fuel/company card not be provided. Moreover, should your vehicle consume large amounts of gas, this option will fail to offset the vehicle’s gas consumption—in the absence of a fuel/company card—resulting in you having to make up the difference. Additionally, should you own a high end vehicle; the money being reimbursed may fail to cover repairs and maintenance, equally making the reimbursement option unfavorable.

Recommendations

        In spite of there being cons associated with the reimbursement package, the following options assist in allaying this: negotiating a higher per mile reimbursement structure; employing a company vehicle; utilizing a car rental; or being supplied with a fuel card with the inclusion of mile reimbursement.

Figure 2: Refueling of vehicle during a field assignment

Vehicle Allowance

        The vehicle allowance option, works by a company issuing a pre-agreed monthly allowance—between employee and employer—to cover the use of your personal vehicle. The allowance can equally be used at your discretion to secure transportation. Agreeing on an allowance that benefits both employee and employer is key.

Pros: Here too, having your POV paid off can be of high benefit, especially when it is fuel efficient and in solid working condition, which, in turn, provides supplementary income.  However, should your vehicle consume large amounts of gas, or be a high-end model, acquiring a secondary vehicle may be a sound option (Should you stay with the same employer for the duration of the vehicle’s loan, this can lead to you your employer paying the entirety of said loan).

Cons: The vehicle allowance option equally has disadvantages, particularly when acquiring a secondary vehicle, as this commits you to paying an additional vehicle note, which can be problematic should you go work elsewhere, and a vehicle allowance not be offered.

        Another downside to allowances lies in the fact that project specifics can change, resulting in an increase in frequency of having to travel to work sites. In this backdrop, the agreed upon allowance may be in sufficient to offset fuel costs. This too is applicable, when having to travel work sites that are located much further than previously before, leading to additional wear and tear. This can be offset by adjusting or upping the allowance. However, the allowance adjustments are not always immediate, particularly when approval for an adjustment requires multiple levels of approval. In such backdrop, a service worker will continue to operate at a financial loss, until the allowance is properly adjusted.

Recommendations

        It is important to note that when opting for the allowance option, that both employee and employer to assess the amount of field work that is to be conduct, and ensure that the allowance be sufficient to cover the costs for fuel and wear and tear. Additionally, the cons of this option can be offset via the following: utilizing a rental; employing a company vehicle; utilizing a car rental; negotiating a cash advance while the allowance is adjusted, or being supplied with a company/fuel card.

 Conclusion

        Though there many pros and cons to consider when using your POV, it is important that both employee and employer get a “fair shake” that benefits both parties. For this reason, it is important for both participants to carefully consider and pick the program that best accomplishes this.  


Image Citation: (Front Page) R. Gino Santa Maria via Dreamstime