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Wore Plum Out

Its 03:30 in the morning; night two. I've been awake 33 hours straight. We've been stuck, just got unstuck, and I am sweeping the hole now. Circulating time will be 3 hours and I am, was, watching pump pressures and rates, checking mud viscosity every bottoms up. Now, I am sound asleep.

Leaning to sleep standing up is one of the first things a hand learns on a drilling rig, Over the past 55 years I've gotten damn good at it. Five minutes here and there will make a new man out of you. That and another gallon of dark, nasty coffee with 43 c.p. viscosity. After two days and two nights if you can find a spot to sit and hang your head. its automatic lights out. The back seat of a pickup truck is like the 4 Seasons.

On the right, night 3. The well is logged, cores all shot and looking good under the black light; we're running high. Casing is on location, tallied, float equipment is ready and placement detailed. We're on bottom with drill pipe circulating, working pipe; dropping mud visc. and knocking wall cake down, and up out of the hole. Another 2 hours of circulating.

I've found tarmac and I am OUT ! The first son of a bitch that wakes me up to tell me what the mud visc. is, or asks how much longer to circulate... is going to suffer my wrath. My internal alarm clock is set. The do NOT disturb sign is hung.

For the record, 17 pound 5 1/2" casing is way more comfortable than 23 pound.

The first year my daughter was born I drilled 45 wells as an operator; I was gone all the time and it was horrible. I'd bump a plug at one or two in the morning, sign the tickets and want to get home, to my family, as quickly as I could.

The line in the middle of the highway goes on forever; no traffic, except deer and snakes and alligators. All you can do is drink containers of coffee, lots of stops, ice cold air, open windows, Pink Floyd dialed way up. A logging engineer friend of mine hit a horse on a lonely highway in South Texas, at 3 in the morning, killed him instantly

I've woken up some many times in my drive way unable to remember how I even got home. Some like a hand for Christopher Columbus you want to get out of the truck, get on your knees, kiss the driveway and thank God you found unmovable land.


I got a call at 9:00 PM one night, a fire. The boys in Houston got to fly up; when they got there and a look they decided they need one more hand. It was going to be a 8 hour drive. It must have been 3:30 in the morning when I turned right at Fort Stockton onto 385; this was way before the shale boom and there is nothing on that highway for 80 miles. I cranked it up about 4 notches and was doing 105 MPH.

Out of nowhere the Highway Patrol comes up behind me and turns his lights on. I was smiling and so was he. Sorta. I said to him that it was a helluva note when a hand couldn't drive a hundred miles an hour to get to work on time in West Texas, and laughed. He didn't think that was funny at all.

He looked at the B&C stickers on my vehicle and asked, "where the hell you going so fast, a fire?"

I said, 'yes sir."

He went to his car, ran the plates and came back, handed me my DL and told me where to turn..."the dispatcher said it was a big one. "Try and keep it below 90, if you can; have a warm day."

Things have changed in the oilfield, a lot. We use to go wide open, non-stop. Never sleep. Coots Matthews wrecked four Halliburton pickups the last year he was with them in East Texas, before going to work for Myron Kinley in 1958. I asked him how in the world he could do THAT and his response was, "'cause I never could figure out how to drive them sumbitches while I was sleeping, pods."


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