Digital Oilfield Technology

There are many new technologies that contribute to the concept digital oilfield.  From the use of 4-D seismic imaging to the “data to desktop” initiatives, digital technology has introduced production data to marketers and traders.  Meaning that it can potentially impact the entire oil and gas industry.

You may have heard the term, “smart fields,” or “e-fields,”  both are labels for the use of digital imaging and information transfer in the oilfield. The concept of using such technologies has resulted in impacting the volume of oil produced, and reducing the amount of intervention times. Making the production process at it’s optimum potential. Shell is a company that operates many “smart fields.”  One project they call “Amberjack”  has had a reduced price of 20% for operating costs, and a 5-10% increase in recovery.  Not to mention, it has as high as 75% reduction in work flow cycle times.  All in all, being able to increase up to 600 barrels of oil per day.

Although there have been many success stories with the use of digital oilfield technologies, there has also been its fair share of set backs, and the concept still has a long way to go in order to be fully functional. Perhaps one of the biggest problems as of yet, is being able to decipher the data, and how to determine what, and how the data is useful once it has been gained through digital imaging.  Not to mention, the problems involved in outsourcing the use of current equipment and maintenance.  Also, the cost of using this equipment is still expensive, and the training involved in using such equipment is costly for companies to invest in, making the use of digital oilfields unavailable to many.

It is believed that new technologies with digital oilfield will continue to mature, and will reduce in cost as it becomes more widely used. Imagine being able to accomplish goals in a much more timely manner in areas that are considered hostile or difficult.  The use of these technologies could save lives, time, and money.  Also, being able to collect data digitally will allow for people to monitor wells from thousands of miles away.  Raising the possibility of centralized equipment and allowing for more efficient management of equipment   Also, by bringing real time data, it will help aid in sales venues by allowing potential buyers the opportunity to have more informed decisions.

Digital Oilfield Technology is a field still developing, with promise of efficiency In the foreseeable future, using digital imaging and data enhancement equipment will become the way in which the industry operates. However, for the time being, it is still unreachable for many due to the investment costs and time involved in training.  As things mature and change, so will the oil industry, making hostile locations, difficult drills, and fragile oil based communities more secure in their safety and output.  Just as people change and grow, so will the oil industry, change is unavoidable and we eagerly wait to see it evolve.


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Heart of an Ole’ Timer Roughneck


I know a man, whose heart belongs to the Oilfield. He is now an elderly man, residing in an assisted living home; but he once was a king. A king in a close knit community called, the “Oil Patch.” You would not know if you looked at him, now frail, small, and walking with a cane, but once this roughneck was a mountain of a man that could throw pipe with the strongest of men. He would out work and outsmart any obstacle in his path. If oil was to be found, he would find it. If oil was to be drilled, he drilled it. If oil needed to flow, he flowed it. He was the first man to ever weld for the oilfield under water.

His mind is weak now at 84yrs of age, and simple things fail him. You have to remind him your name even though he has been a constant in your life forever. However, this man still remembers how to read a gage, turn a wrench, or climb a derrick. In his day, there was nothing in the field that would escape his knowledge. He was, and still is the definition of, “Old School Oil field.” He started when hard hats and O2 censors were not yet present, and to get a job on a rig, you stood in line and waited for someone to quit, or suffered from exhaustion. He has witnessed how the field has turned from manual labor to computer assistance in some areas. He has watched how injuries would occur and a new safety rule would finally come into effect.

This king of a man, has taught many, including my own husband, how to make a true living. By taking no shortcuts or handouts, using only his own influence, he has taught many how to work hard and reap in the rewards. He has taught people how to find satisfaction in a job well done, and how to dedicate themselves to a purpose, then see it through. Failure was never an option.

I cannot imagine how many hands he has watched come and go, especially considering he didn’t retire until he was 81. He withstood raising a family, and leaving a good woman at home while he worked tirelessly. While on hitch after hitch and rig after rig, he sadly missed the births of his children and even his grandchildren. He made up for it by being the immense man that he was, and provided as much love to each and everyone that his heart would allow. Generosity was part of his DNA, not just his personality. He is the creator of many tools and parts used in the industry. He is a self taught engineer, and served as a pioneer when the patch was limited and little. By saving his money, he was able to donate to churches, families in need, and who ever else needed it. No mouth would go unfed in his presence.

This man is the definition of a true oilfield man. There is integrity in his persona, honesty in every action and deed, and devotion with every well, well hand, and family. When he speaks of his time in the field, he talks as if he is reliving his glory days. Those moments that have come and gone, to others may seem small or insignificant, but to anyone in the oilfield family, these moments are what life is made of. There is a glimmer in his eyes as he speaks; a reminder of the pride that resides in a roughneck. He has something to be proud of, the life he has lived, the lives he has changed, and the lives he has brought into the world. He is Oilfield. He might be considered older generation Oilfield, from a different time in history, but the message is still the same…. Oilfield is not a profession; Oilfield is a sense of pride. This ole’ timer is my husband’s grandfather, and he still is a king in a growing community called the “Oil Patch.” Even retired and frail, he still wears his heart on his sleeve… and his heart belongs to the Oilfield.

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Project Safe Bakken

The Bakken Shales have provided so many with jobs and financial freedom throughout the United States.  People have flocked to the remote small towns of North Dakota in hopes to find work, and wealth in the oil and gas industry.  With the masses, have come an unknown amount of criminals in hopes to corrupt the working hands, or find profit of their own. Rumors of prostitutes and hookers leaving the comforts of New york for the money that flows from the hands of lonely roughnecks, into their pocket books have only been the beginning of crime rolling into North Dakota and surrounding areas.  With the movement has brought on a slew of drugs, with cartels trying to manipulate the rising population to suit their own cruel intentions.  Thankfully, the federal and state officials have put their resources to use, and have worked overtime to help curb the crime rate, starting with known drug problems that have recently flooded the Bakken Shales, stemming from North Dakota and into Montana.

Recently, officials announced their success with a huge Bakken area drug bust that traveled all the way to Spokane Washington.  A dealer, who went by the name Dr. Bob, was reportedly responsible for supplying local drug dealers with methamphetamine in multiple small towns on the Bakken Shale formations.  Dr. Bob’s criminal network, reportedly, was brought to an end when officials closed in on several residents in Montana that were directly receiving supplies from the Spokane resident.  Six were arrested in Montana, and four more a few days later in North Dakota.

The officials responsible for ending the reign of Dr. Bob, attribute the bust to a program they call, “Project Safe Bakken.”  Project Safe Bakken was put into full force when an FBI agent was shot in the small town of Keene N.D. while in an effort to carry out a search warrant. Thankfully, the agent was not seriously injured, yet the incident put into perspective the growing drug problem and crime rate.

With a larger population, comes a larger crime network, and many areas of North Dakota and Montana are growing by the thousands every month. Although, Project Safe Bakken has been around for over a year, it never really took full force until an FBI agency was placed in the Bakken this past July.  With more assistance to the struggling officials provided, they were able to open more cases, that until recently, had been sealed.  Truth being, that until the FBI moved in, police officials were ill equipped to handle organized crime.

In the heart of the Bakken patch lies the Indian reservation, this is where organized crime has focused a majority of their time in the past few years.  It is here that they have found a drug ring responsible for trafficking heroin and other harmful drugs that were trying to make there way further into the Bakken Fields.  In this case 22 people were charged with trafficking citations and arrests with direct relation to this drug ring.

At one time, the Bakken was considered a relatively safe place with rolling fields of corn and farming communities.  Now the Bakken is home to more people then ever anticipated, some welcome the wealth, others are not adjusting as well due to the traffic and crime rate.  Thankfully, the FBI has made arrangements to assist the struggling small town police officials, and implement the idea of, “Project Safe Bakken.” Perhaps with officials curbing the drug trafficking and crime rate, the community of the Bakken will find balance with the growth and wealth.  Making the vast communities in the area, as charming and enjoyable, as they once were.

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Scary Rigs or Halloween Stories?

With Halloween quickly approaching, scary stories seem to emerge out of the dark. Suddenly, all of those bumps in the night are worth checking out, and everyone seems that much more aware of their surroundings.  Cable channels start to focus on scary movies such as Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street.  Both movies were responsible for myself never sleeping in the dark as a child.  Even as adults, those indescribable events that we write off as our mind playing tricks on us, tend to lead to sleepless nights on occasion.  Sometimes, actual events that we know happened stay hushed in order to protect ourselves from the looney bin.  Our oilfield men are no different, they may be tough as nails, but even certain events can leave a grown man shaking in his steel toes.

Stories of haunted rigs generally stay quiet, except for Halloween and when a new worm is being introduced.  The oilfield rarely stops for anyone or any reason, let alone a supposed ghost or supernatural haunting.  The corporate benefactors would laugh at the thought of closing a multi million dollar rig down in order to appease a man seeing things in the dark.  Work continues, and those things that go bump in the night have to take a back burner to the drilling or production process.
One of my favorite stories, I happened across was on a supernatural thread, via the internet.  It was about an oil well, location unknown, where supposed ghost’s of an elderly couple and several children roam the location, sometimes appearing to be working as farmers or cleaning a house that was obsolete.  Although most of the roughnecks witnessed the visions, the ghosts were never discussed.  The apparent spirits were never harmful or aggressive, so men just continued their jobs, doing their best to ignore them.  One rig hand finally told his wife which led to some research, and found that in the early 1900’s a home was burned to the ground, killing husband, wife, and several children  in the exact location of the well.  It is said that the well is still in operation, and the spirits still visit every night as if they are still alive in their own time.

I have read about spirits of farmers working the Bakken fields surrounding the rigs, and of child ghosts playing hide and seek on locations.  I have read interesting stories of skin walkers praying on wells located near Fort Duschene, Utah, and heard of rig hands seeing illusions of row boats with iridescent beings floating across the ocean waves on the outer coasts of Louisiana.  One man swears he witnessed a ghost pirate ship haunting the rig as if it were going to invade, like something out of the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean.

More then likely, roughnecks across the globe have encountered something out of the ordinary when out on location.  If you consider how often the earth is disturbed with drilling and fracturing, you have to wonder what we are disturbing on a daily basis.  Native Americans, of many tribes, consider the ground to be a sacred home of the dead, both for humans and animals.  Many also believe, that every time the ground is disturbed, so is a sleeping soul.  Fact or Fiction? no one really knows, yet the stories have made for good conversation, interesting Halloween stories, and oil rig entertainment from time to time.

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The Bakken Gold Rush

When thinking of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, I think of the days of old, when the gold rush was ever present.  I envision an old western movie where sickness, violence, wealth, and greed combine with the hard working and dedicated family men to create a story line that keeps you interested until the very end.  In many ways, both the gold rush in California and the oil rush in North Dakota are similar. They both have brought overcrowding, and people of all races, religions, and backgrounds into one area in hopes of finding wealth.  Granted, in today’s day and age, it is not gold nuggets that fuel the fever, it is liquid black gold.  The only real change is the technology that has brought success rather then the failure that once plagued the 1800’s gold rush .

Perhaps, with the modern day gold rush, there is the opportunity for governing and control, while back in the 1800’s, the need for gold made men mentally sick and brought corruption and violence like a bad disease. Some would argue that black gold has brought some of the same devastation with North Dakota battling a known drug problem, rumors of prostitution, and even murder and kidnapping.  The once small community of Williston, North Dakota has now gained a reputation of being a dangerous place to live, yet hard working men still flock to the area with big dreams for financial freedom.

Although rumors surround the farming community, you cannot deny the potential of the booming shale.  For the United States, the Bakken Shale has become one of the sole reasons that America has the potential to become a global leader in energy supply.  The shale houses over 200 oil rigs and holds more then 20 million barrels of crude oil.  The oil was first discovered in 1951 but was financially unable to be recovered. Now with technological advances like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, harvesting hidden oil has become feasible.  Thus leading to the boom that has reconstructed the farm lands of North Dakota.

While some argue that the oil boom has brought nothing but devastation, others appreciate the financial stability that has changed the community. North Dakota, now has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, thanks to the oil boom.  Not to mention, farmers, who once were struggling to make ends meet are now able to rest easy with royalty money coming in from the rig leases.  The money does not stop there.  It flows into the hands of restaurants that feed the hungry working men, into the hotels that give out of towners a place to sleep, and real estate has skyrocketed with old and new homes being bought up.  Even small retail stores are seeing a marginal change in profits.  The taxes being collected are freeing up debt at state level, and for the first time in years, those pot holes in the roads are being repaired.

With every opportunity for good, comes opportunity for bad, yet opportunity rarely presents itself with the untold profit margins of the black gold that bleeds from the rock formations of North Dakota.   Like the days of old, men flock to the area with big dreams, hoping that the promise of crude oil will allow for years of solid work and offer financial freedom.  The community has grown at an alarming rate, sometimes bringing the good with the bad, yet no signs of resistance has slowed the drilling of the farming lands in North Dakota.

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To Be An Oilfield Wife

It takes a special kind of woman to be married to an oil man.  The kind of woman who changes her own tire on a back road, in the dark, by herself, with three screaming kids in the back seat.  The kind that can handle raising kids, and fixing the wash machine when it breaks, all on her own.   An oilfield wife knows what it feels like to sleep alone at night, and what it feels like to spend sleepless nights waiting by the phone in hopes to hear her husbands voice.   When I say, that it takes a special kind of woman to be married to an oil man, I am not exaggerating.

An oil wife will lead an unpredictable life.  They will move, a handful of times following their husbands career.  More then likely, she will do all the packing and driving moving trucks while pulling their car behind, all by themselves because their oilman is on hitch.  They will locate, move in, and make their new house a home in a miraculous amount of time. They never know when, and if their husbands will go out, and when, and if their husbands will come home.  When times get tough, an oilfield wife puts on her big girl pants, and deals in a way that a delicate woman could never relate.

Oilfield life is not for everyone, and definitely not for the weak.  Oilfield wives included.  No room for a woman who needs a lot of attention, or someone who cant stand to be alone in the patch…  you will be home alone more often then not.  No room for the female who can’t do anything without a second opinion, or help…  there will rarely be anyone around to lend you a hand.  No time for tears, because your kids need a strong person to make them secure in their lifestyle.  An oilfield wife, manages the bills, the household, the children, and dotes on her husband when he is home… never complaining, and always putting her family first.

Some people say that marrying an oilfield hand is marrying for money.  Perhaps it’s a trade off for the greedy few.  However, most oil wives would trade every dime to have our husbands home at night.  We keep our head held high and deal with the daily obstacles, so that our husbands can go to work with comfort and a clear head knowing that, their wives and children will be fine.  I need not mention what the consequences can be for an oilfield hand distracted.  It takes a strong woman to live this life, and an even stronger one to love it, and be married to it.

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