Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chapter 1 and 2 of the Saga..

Chapter 1. Beginnings

Since I was 14 I wanted to be a petroleum engineer. I remember the day that became my goal.
It all started because, for a church youth group activity, my church leaders (all oil men) decided to take us out to a drilling rig, and to give us a little taste of the oilfield. We got to the rig (Newfield Rig 4), they gave us all hardhats, and we climbed the stairs up the the rig floor.

There were loud machines, huge lengths of pipe, chains everywhere, huge metal grabbers called tongs, and four or five roughnecks covered in mud and oil.  They proceeded to make what is called a "connection". They removed the "Kelly" from the pipe string in the hole, and added another 32 foot length of pipe.  They did it effortlessly, in less than 2 minutes.

I was fascinated by what they were doing.  I wanted to know more.  So as we proceeded to a few other locations, learning about different steps in the process of extracting, transporting, refining, and distributing petroleum products, I told them, "I really like this stuff, but I always wanted to be an engineer".

Brett H, then a senior well analyst for Newfield, turned around in his seat and said, "Why don't you become a petroleum engineer? My boss is a PE and he went to Colorado School of Mines. That's where all the best ones come out of".

The rest is history. I applied to one school, at the beginning of my senior year.  And I was immediately accepted.  They held my admission for two years, so that I could serve a full time LDS mission in Concepcion, Chile.  Immediately upon my return, I packed up my things, and went to Golden, Colorado to start school.

Chapter 2. El Paso/Frontier

Rewind.....    During high school, I had a great job doing maintenance on cars at a local lube shop in my hometown. I loved my job, and it paid fairly well for a high school student (a whopping 10 bucks per hour).  I was even important there. I was the first high school kid to ever be down in the pit working underneath the vehicles, in the 15 years the shop had been open.  A few of the main guys quit, and I ended up sort of in charge of the shop, and everything we did. I was barely 18 years old.

One day, at church, before the services started, a neighbor of mine stopped me and my brother as we were taking our seats and said "Hey, you guys want a job?"  We told him we both sort of already had pretty good jobs.  "How much does it pay?" we asked him.  "19 dollars per hour, and you work on your own, with no one there to babysit you."

Long story short, I quite the other job, which was painful, but went to work for the first time in the oilfield. We did ultrasonic pipeline inspection, for El Paso E&P.  That's Exploration and Production, to normal people. It was just Reed and I.  And we needed some serious help. We had to test all the equipment in two natural gas processing plants, refineries basically.  So, we hired 4 or 5 of our best buddies to help us out.  We had a great spring, and a very fun summer. We were all making great money, we were our own bosses, and we had a blast.  But by the end of summer, we were finishing up the contract with El Paso.  Everyone was either back in high school, going to college, or going on their missions.

I had to find something to do. So I did.

The same guy who took us out the the drilling rig 4 or 5 years earlier, got me a job as a roughneck on Frontier Drilling Rig 5.  Brundage Canyon, 30 miles south of Duchesne, Utah.  This was what they call a "Mobile Rig".  a rig that could just pack up and drive away, AKA a "Tires and Wires" rig.

The following 3 months were some of the best memories of my life.  I absolutely loved being a roughneck. I loved the heavy machinery, I loved the dirt and mud and oil, I loved sunrises and sunsets we got to see from mountain tops, and I really loved the guys I worked with as well.  We drilled oilwells, around 6 thousand feet each, in less than a week at a time.  I was making about 22 dollars per hour, with per diem safety bonuses, and bottom hole bonuses of around 900 bucks per week.

Being 18, living at home, and having no bills to pay, I was sort of rolling in it.  Honestly, if there were any point in my life I could go back and re live, it would be that time.  I had the best job, the best girlfriend, a Bad A** attitude, and I was invincible.

And then, I got my mission call. I worked clear up until mid November of 2007. I'll never forget the last day on Rig 5. Everyone was really quiet on the way home. I could barely keep from crying, so I didn't really say anything.  I didn't want to leave my crew. I was just a new guy, but we all kind of became friends and brothers. I remember when my driller dropped me off, he got out of his truck and gave me a hug.  This was the most tough, hardcore, scary dude in the world. I looked up to him, and I respected him.  So it meant a lot to me when he told me he thought the world of me, and gave me a hug, and told me he'd be at my mission farewell.

I then bought all my suits, and luggage, and shoes, and everything else, and on December 5th, I went into the MTC.

The Oilfield Romantic 

This is sort of becoming a long life story, which is not really what I intended it to be.  But there are a lot of things here that have contributed to who I am.  I'm sure I'll be stepping back further, from time to time, to explain why certain things happened. Flashbacks will be a regular occurrence over the course of this little blog.

If you're a reader, and you want me to explain anything, either about me, or what was going on at some point, or what the hell I was thinking, just let me know on the comments.  I'll do my best to clarify. I hope you like the embedded links so you can learn a bit more about what I'm talking about.

Chapters 3 and 4 will probably be about Chile, and about growing up in Roosevelt/Neola, Utah. Some of the names might be changed, although if you know me quite well, you'll know exactly who I'm talking about at all times.

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