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Sorry, this is not a post about OXY merging with Moron. Admittedly that would be newsworthy given how much OXY paid for Anadarko and how well the two words fit...but that is a different story for a different time. Besides, every time I think of Al Walker blaming Wall Street for loaning Anadarko too much money, like drug pushers across the school yard fence, my blood pressure goes up and I think about starting to day drink.

This observation, actually, is far more troubling to me.

ox·y·mo·ron /ˌäksəˈmôrˌän/ Learn to pronounce

noun 1.) a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true ). "that fashionable rhetorical novelty, the humblebrag, is itself an oxymoron"

All oilfield tubulars going into the hole, be it drill pipe, casing, tubing, bottom hole assemblies like bits, bit subs, everything... has to be measured down to the size of a gnat ass and added all up. It is imperative to know where one is at all times, down there in the dark. We call this "tallying," oilfield talk for measuring. When pipe is screwed together the threads on the male pin get buried into the collar of the female end so when tallying pipe the treads don't get measured.

The process of tallying pipe is as old as the oilfield itself and, as you might expect, fraught with the perils of not measuring correctly, not writing down the numbers properly in the little book, transposing number, etc., then not being able to add correctly. When dumb roughnecks are involved, and they are tired at 03:00 in the morning and soaking wet in the pouring rain, shit happens. When mistakes are discovered the blame game starts; tool pushers start screaming, throwing dope brushes across the rig floor and well, I've see fist fights break out over pipe tallies.

In the new oilfield of today, where everything occurs using other people's money, they now "scan" pipe with a thingy and it goes directly into a computer, is added up digitally with algos, and the tool-pusher never leaves the comfort of his recliner in his portable, air-conditioned office with Fox News going 24/7.

In the old oilfield we did not have thingies. We always numbered the pipe with a grease pencil, measured the pipe with a tally tape, wrote the numbers down in a tally book you can shove in the back of your greasy jeans, then went to the dog house to hit the adding machine. When done you presented the tool pusher with the final tally, proudly, like it was an original copy of the US Constitution.

It takes three hands for this important job, one to write down the numbers as they are called out, one to hook the "dumb-end" of the tape into each collar and one hand to pull the tape tight, measure to the top of the threads and call out the number. The end with the numbers is called the "smart end" of a tally tape. Everybody has to have their foggy brains fully engaged in the pipe tally, except the dumb-end holder. He gets a pass. For various reason one does not give the dumb-end holder much responsibility other than hooking the tape into a collar. Often one can look at a crew of roughnecks and determine immediately a good dumb-end tally tape holder.

All that is is why the photograph below is so troubling to me. This is all bass-ackwards and represents a significant contradiction in terms, a gross digression from proper oilfield procedure.

Here the smart-end holder of the tally tape is totally dependent on the dumb-end holder putting the hook on the top of the treads, at zero, and he is measuring to the top of tool joint, or collar on the drill pipe. The dumb-end holder actually has to be smart enough to hold exactly to the top of the threads, a dangerous presumption, that. Now both hands need to be totally focused and the margin for error has gone up exponentially. The is a big no-no and if I was pushing on this rig I'd be eatin' some ass right now. It could be the dumb end holder down on the other end of the pipe is holding to the tool joint shoulder; I don't know from this photo. You would want the smart-end holder down on the other end when casing and tubing and exposed threads are involved.

When both ends of a tally tape need to be smart-ends, that is definitely an oxymoron, and a big risk to the tool pushers blood pressure.


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