Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gate Etiquette

Missy and I have established a reputation as being the "go to" guards on problem gates. Give us the rankest, rudest land owner or company man and we'll find a way to get along. Unfortunately, sometimes the problem is with the guards. I have said repeatedly that your gate is for you to control. You have to modify the behavior of those you come in contact with so that things run in a smooth, safe manner. Obviously this is not as easy as it sounds because we continue to hear of problem guards/gates. Like a lot of things in life dealing with people in the conditions we do requires unique individuals. I believe this ability has to come naturally, but can be developed and honed over time. If it helps, you do not technically report to the company man, tool pusher or any authority on your job site. You do, however, have to keep them placated and deal with them in a professional manner. The same applies to the rest of the workforce you deal with. Once complaints get to the company man's level, your time on a gate can be very short. I rather not bore you with particulars, since this topic has been rehashed ad nauseam. However; you'd think simple things like grooming and being polite would be obvious. In this time of production slowdowns and layoffs, it behooves all of us to take personal inventory and see where we are lacking or can improve. Guard companies have always held the upper hand when it came to selecting guards - and even more so now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Winding Down a Dismal Year

Somehow with the oil glut and crash in fuel prices we have remained employed as gate guards. I am sure the pinch is spreading and affecting many other folks, including businesses dependent on the exploration and production of oil and gas. Like so much these days the real story of the glut is one entangled in "spin" put out by everyone from the media to the folks with the boots on the ground in the oil fields. Back in the day stories without merit (or even truth) were published and known as yellow journalism. I think today's electronic, internet driven media is as bad or worse than yellow journalism. It would be refreshing to have a reliable source of news that was unbiased and accurate. Lest you're wondering what my point is, witness the following. As far back as the gas crisis of the seventies pundits said the world was nearly out of oil. Now we're awash in it? China's economy and its recent slowdown (by the way, how do we know that is accurate?) have also been named as culprits. However, most would be surprised how little our business with China affects our economy in the overall scheme of things. There are plenty of other examples of murky reasoning; but what concerns me the most is the lack of reaction to the goings on in the Mideast. Used to be, the slightest hint of trouble in an oil producing state and gas prices would soar. Fuel prices have remained steady, and even dropped, with all the current upheaval. As contractors in the oil fields of south Texas we have a unique perspective on things. Yet we still are wholly unsure of exactly what is going to happen. The last time oil prices crashed (in the late 70's early 80's), it pretty much shut production down in Texas. In fact, if directional drilling hadn't developed we wouldn't be where we are today. There have been all sorts of rumors; but we do know that rigs are laying down like flies and layoff notices have gone out to a ton of folks. One surprising statistic is that there were over 280 rigs in the Eagle Ford Shale this time last year. Now we're down to under 75 and falling. Understandably this has created a morale problem and the topic seems to surface in almost every conversation in the patch. As a contractor it behooves one to do whatever is necessary to remain employed. It's hard to imagine things getting any worse; short of a shutdown. Traditionally the patch sees an uptick in activity as we roll into the first part of a year. Let's hope that happens in 2016.