I know it's not the most intriguing subject matter, but occasionally I get it in my head that people might be interested in some of the aspects of the oilfield. With this in mind I've taken a few pictures with my shiny new camera, and I will do my very best to explain what you're seeing. If you want me to explain anything further I'll be happy to.
There it is. Nabors 60. That little trailer thing with the red doors is where I live out here. Currently the rig is parked out in a farmers field drilling a hole in the ground over 3 km (or 2 miles) deep. It's springtime right now, and so path through the field to our rig has been matted. You can see some of the leftover matting on the right edge of the picture. It's basically a bunch of wooden pads that interlock so that you can drive over it. If we didn't have matting, the ruts in the road would likely be 2 feet deep right now, which might be fun 4×4'ing but not very good for the bigger trucks. Some terminology: The trailers where we live in are called Shacks. They're designed to be completely portable, and when the rig moves bed trucks pick them up and the shacks move with them. It's very quick. The tower on the drilling rig is called a Derrick. The Blue buildings in front of the derrick are various components that operate the rig. Things like engines, and electrical. The Blue and White shack beside mine belongs to the Vac-Hauler. He runs a truck that is essentially a giant vacuume. You can see it in front of the engine buildings. His job is to suck the silt, and sand, and mud that is produced from drilling a hole in the ground and get rid of it. On this particular job he spreads the drilling biproducts on a farmer's field nearby. This of course is done with the farmer's and an environmentalist's consent, and as I understand it the mud is very nutrient rich, so it's actually a boon for the farmer.
This is a picture of the rig floor. The man in the picture is Jody, this shift's assistant driller. Right now he's adjusting the orientation of the pipe. Which you can see just right of center. Essentially he's steering which way the bit goes. Drilling has to be very accurate, rock formations are horizontal and there are particular formations that yeald gas. A geologist on site analizes the drill clippings to determine when the bit is in the correct rock formation to yeld the most gas, then the bit steered on a course to go horisontal along this formation. In this particular area, the formations are usually just under a mile deep, and then they drill a mile or two horizontal. Here the process usually takes about a month but varies greatly when you move to other areas.
The Blue coveralls the driller is wearing are worn as personal protective gear, they are made from a fire retardant material, usually Nomex or Proban. This is so that if there might be a flash fire or an explosion, the material will not light on fire, and will even provide an amount of protection. The yellow stripes on his back are so that he's visible to any moving machinery operators. All the things we wear out here, the hard hats, coveralls, shatter-proof glasses, are required of us by Canadian industrial law and enforced by the oil companies we work for. Some oil companies are more sticky than others about safety and will require things like fire retardant undergarments. (Yes you heard me, underwear that's fire retardant. Wrap your minds around that boys and girls.) These are all precautions, accidents DO happen, and people do get hurt, but not as much as you would think. I've worked on this rig for over 6 months now, and no one has came to me for so much as a cut. Safety training is big here and the oil companies take it very seriously because they pay huge insurance decutables when people get hurt. It's drilled into everyone's head, things can break, but everyone would rather see half-a-million dollars in equipment damage before a single person goes to the hospital. Machines can be repaired much more easily than people.
Adjacent to the drill floor is the dog house, you can see the outside of it in my first picture. It's the blue part of the rig the flags are mounted on-top of. This is where the driller stays when the drilling is going smooth. It's basically the control station for the whole operation. The monitors feed the driller information about the speed that the rig is drilling, properties of the fluids that are sent down hole, the direction of the bit, and the pressure of the gas that's at the bottom. The two big square things on the very left of the picture are heaters. (It gets cold in Canada sometimes.) And orange and white bottles on the cournter between them are hand cleaners. (So we're not as dirty as you might have thought.)
There, not that interesting, but maybe when I post a crazy story about something that happened out here, this might give you a bit of perspective and help you understand what's going on. Oilfield is a specific lifestyle and in fact very few people would actually set out to do it. We all do it for the money, not to say that we don't enjoy aspects of it, but the months away from our families and and the lack of job security (when gas prices fall, so does the work) makes every aspect of it extremely high-paying. Most that start this, come in with the intention to make a set amount of money and then use that money to start another business or use it to suppliment a less profitable venture they're allready in. (Like a farm.)