Sunday, April 6, 2014

Musings...Yet Again

I have lots of things on my mind and thought I'd share my thoughts of our life in the "oil patch". Particularly since we have never been on a gate this remote or this far south. March was an interesting month as we had a rig in for the first time since we took over the gate. Unlike the rigs we have worked with in the past, this bunch was very anti social. They wouldn't even give us contact info! Also, unlike other gates we have worked, we have many facilities and pads with all kinds of work and/or maintenance going on. There are over 800 wells and counting between the two ranches where we are working. That means the gate is long term and busier than; say a single rig and pad operation-an average of between 250 to 500 vehicles in a 24 hour period. As with every hole we have worked, coil tubing followed the rig on the pad and now that they are done we are preparing to frack the holes. So we will be earning our pay over the next week or so with the frack and all its ancillary traffic; meaning lots and lots of sand trucks. It doesn't seem that long ago when we were facing our first frack and very anxious about what was about to happen. We had heard so many stories about the traffic and general craziness surrounding a fracking operation. Now it's just another part of what we do, just like processing 250 vehicles a day. To add to all the confusion we also have pad work, normal maintenance, a pipeline being laid and a work over rig doing its thing.
Our lives as gate guards has changed us over the years and we have fundamentally transformed. For better or worse I have always tried to better my situation in life. Sometimes I wonder if we would not have been better off accepting the status quo. There are gate guard positions at some companies where someone can basically kick back, be assured of having work (as assured as you can be in this business) and not have to worry too much about your equipment and the support  people. Trouble is, most of them don't pay anywhere near the maximum you can get in the "patch". We have made three leaps of faith and have almost doubled our income along the way. We have learned that despite as big as Texas likes to think it is, the petroleum community in the Eagle Ford Shale is relatively small. It is a rare week that we don't meet folks we have worked with in the past. Here's a little nugget for all you slackers out there-companies tend to promote their hard workers and keep them working and the oil companies (and land owners) know who they are. (The other edge of this double edged sword is that these hard workers can and will get assigned to some pretty tough gates) Here's another nugget-in these litigious times gate guard companies have a way of handling folks who they feel don't fit the bill. They don't put them on a gate! Sounds simple, but every year we get folks who end up sitting for weeks on end. Unless you have a good rapport with the company your contracting with, it's time to move on. Wake up, try another gate guard company and mend your ways.
We finally had our first close up encounter with illegal aliens a night or two ago. Two of them walked up out of the darkness; lost, dirty, thirsty, hungry and a little desperate. Turns out they had eight other friends with them that I helped coax out of the darkness. They had paid their coyote (guide) about $2000 each and he abandoned them after they crossed the Rio Grande. After about a week of wandering they had only covered about 15 miles of the 130 plus to get to San Antonio. I surmised they had been walking in circles. While I engaged them in conversation Missy called security.  A worker, who happened to have been talking to us at the time they appeared, stayed close by. We fed them and gave them water-you should have seen their faces light up when they saw that I had a cooler full of cokes. It is a shame that both Mexico and our impotent legislators can't put together a working immigration policy. Mexico should work on its internal issues and address their poverty stricken populace so that they don't feel the need to make these desperate attempts at finding a better life. Unfortunately, given the history of both countries, that will not be happening anytime soon.


  1. Got a question and do see another way to communicate. Somewhere you posted something about a vacuum cleaner. Are you and the little lady still pleased with it, and if so what was the brand and model. Thanks, Bruce

  2. We use a cheap Bissell from Walmart-the filter has to be cleaned regularly due to all the dust in the oil patch. It is a great vacuum. My e-mail is BTW