Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Dismal Outlook

The agreement with Iran, Greece's economic disaster and a sharp downturn in China's economy; amongst other things, have caused yet another application of the brakes in the oil patch. There has been a slight uptick in fracking, but even that appears to lack momentum. Maintenance and support, like work over rigs, are some of the few activities steadily ginning along. We are just entering the dog days of summer and this does not bode well for security work in the patch. I believe the yearly loss of workers: due to winter Texans heading North and away from the heat, is one of the few reasons that here are any gates open at all. It is my strong belief that extreme care should be taken by anyone contemplating coming South for gate guard work this winter. My advice to you: if you do not secure a gate before coming down, is don't come. If the security company says they can't place you unless you're in the area; tell them politely that you're not interested in serving as a standby. If I haven't dissuaded you, only agree to come if the security company is willing to provide a spot for you while you wait for a gate. The only bright spot might be for those licensed guards that are returning. If you can't already tell; I am doing my best to help prevent the debacle we suffered through last winter. For those of you that missed it, the crash in oil prices last winter saw guards suffering through long waits for gate openings. Some reportedly set for weeks or longer. Seeing this downturn is especially disturbing, given the time of year. It is my sincere hope that my predictions are in error. However, if gate guard work has any kind of accurate barometer, it is the amount of infrastructure that is sitting unused  in security yards. Based on a recent tour, including our own company's yard, things do not look good.
I realize this blog entry may have some of you wondering what a unlicensed noob should do. I think the employment outlook for someone having no other source of income is not good. I believe the days of coming down to the patch with only change in your pocket and just enough gas to get to a gate are, unfortunately, gone. If you're determined, have an alternate plan in place and some money set aside. Do not attempt to get licensed and on a gate after mid August. Traditionally, Labor Day is when winter Texans migrate south, so you should be here prior to that. Security companies have a reputation for not answering and/or returning calls. The best thing you can do to assist your hunt for a gate, is to establish a rapport with guards that are actually doing the work. Social media is a great place to start and you will find that most guards are very helpful. I guarantee you I can get someone on the phone much quicker than a noob ever could. Additionally those of us doing the work have a finger on its pulse, and know the market. If you approach this work with the attitude of a contractor you can find it very rewarding, especially monetarily.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Plum Project Winds Down

We have been on this gate since October, easily a record for us. For some reason we are well liked and have been told that we can expect more of the same in the future. Part of the reason we were assigned here; there was a night shift in place when we first arrived, was to have us available for a pipeline project that was/is upcoming. That project got caught up in the "oil glut" cutbacks and we have remained. It's the first time we have been "squirreled" away by a company official, so now we know it can happen. The trick, it seems, is to simply do the job the best way you know how. You can do the job of a gate guard without being an insufferable ass. To add to our record, we have also outlasted an innumerable amount of contractors and everyone of our company men. That's right, we currently are rudderless, and have no leader-so to speak. It also seems the last company man failed to leave specific instructions on how to deal with, much less release, the guards. So now we are caught up in a delicate dance, with both sides saying they have performed their due diligence, and neither, seemingly, wanting to pull the plug. The only thing we know for sure is that the end is near, so we are preparing to move. Lest this confuse you, it might help to know that our exploration company rarely uses gate guards on these types of projects. We will miss this plum assignment as it has been rewarding in so many ways. We have UPS and Fed Ex delivery, but no mail at the gate. We are close to town and the facilities that provides. We rarely work past six pm, then lockup and settle in for the night. Best of all, the pace of the gate has allowed us to take on relief work and temporary assignments, essentially doubling our income at times. Conversely, it has also allowed one of us to get away and do things with regularity.

Our immediate plans for the future are to head to Houston and have needed repairs performed on our toyhauler. We have been without our main air conditioner for some time now and cannot wait to get it replaced/repaired. The trailer has almost become unbearable in the late afternoon. I have long espoused the need for two air conditioners to beat the South Texas summer heat. This experience has reaffirmed that. While the repairs are being performed we hope to explore the Houston area and relax. A friend of ours has RV spots in Rockport and we are hoping to stop by there for a day or two on our way back to the patch. I recommend the area for anyone wanting to make a daytrip. The seafood alone is worth it.

If I don't get around to it sooner, there will be an update once we get settled.