Feeding the Machine

IMG_0856Drilling rigs are an expense to an oil company. They consume money. As they get bigger, to drill deeper, the more they eat. Move offshore and it gets nuts—engineering, permits, rig, boats, helicopters, jet fuel, diesel fuel, wellheads, casing, drilling mud, cement, bits, cement unit, mudlogging, deep sea sub, directional drilling equipment, electric logging equipment, casing tongs and slips, a ton of food a week, all the personnel to run the above, and the list goes on.

The rig I’m on had some great success the past three years. We were slow getting started, but that’s expected when a new-built rig is crewed up for the first time. Growing pains are inevitable. Eventually, this rig became one of the best I’ve ever been associated with. I’m not talking about the iron, the rig itself, but the people. I’ve worked with very capable men and women over the years, but never so many at one time.

Ask any number of people associated with this rig why this particular group of people succeeded and you’ll hear as many different responses. I think it’s because they dismiss every pre-tour meeting with a prayer, asking God for guidance, oversight, and success. That’s 140 men and women petitioning God twice a day.

I utilized the boats and helicopters to keep the men and women out here supplied with the material they needed to do the job. I fed the machine.

It was my pleasure.

Why Us?

I’ve mentioned that I worked in the Middle East for a time. A long time actually. Fourteen years in Saudi Arabia with a couple of short stints in Yemen and Dubai. Doesn’t seem like that long now, the time there, looking back, and I’ve been home sixteen years. I hate to think about the sum of the two: half of my lifetime to date.

The experience still has an impact on me. I learned a thousand or so Arabic words, not counting counting to a thousand … in Arabic. Amazingly, I still remember most of them, so I’m able to shock-and-awe with my gift of Arabic gab the many convenience store clerks throughout our country.

I miss a few aspects of desert life in a Muslim country. I was a moonshiner and good one. If someone needs advice, I still remember the recipe and the cut-off temperatures. For the record, I sold the still.

Summertime lasted 44-forevers. In 1000BC a meteorologist said it was going to be hot and sunny for the next 10,000 years. Smart guy.

I enjoyed time around the campfire late at night with my Muslim friends, eating goat and rice or chicken and rice, talking about any and everything but religion. You cannot talk about Christianity with devout Muslims, friend or not.

The title of my blog site says what I’ve tried to write about in my posts, a walk in the patch, the oil patch. Drillers keep the world turning today, but they are a bane to the existence to some and a total mystery to others. More the latter I think. I’ve refrained from writing about Islam or Christianity or the differences between the two … until now.

Everyone wonders about God. Who is He? What does He look like? Why does He do what He does? Why me? Why us? Why mankind? I know I have many more questions than answers. Years ago I was a-pondering God as I sat around the fire, the rig in the background, the Hale-Bopp comet streaking across the starlit sky, listening to Muslim men use my God’s name in vain, in broken, accented English. I thought it was strange. Then the answer came to me. Satan is God’s enemy and man’s tempter. He wouldn’t tempt man to insult a false god. I’ve never heard Allah’s name used in vain, or Mohammed’s, or Buddha’s. Only Jesus and God. My God. And I am well-travelled.

I pray one of your questions has now been answered.

A good friend and his wife retired recently and moved home from the Middle East. They built a house a little northwest of San Antonio and moved in. One morning, my friend poured a cup of coffee and stepped out onto the back porch and sat down. The morning was pleasant: the eastern sky a canvass of colorful rays. He sipped coffee and listened to the Muslim call to prayer. All was well in life until … Wait just a darn minute. I’m in Texas. He jumped and looked around just to make sure and screamed for his wife to come lend an ear and help determine the source of the disturbance.

When he recognized the pop-pop-pop of a .50 cal. opening up on the mock Middle Eastern village erected just across the canyon, on Camp Bullis, an Army training base, he sat down and finished his coffee.