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Less than 4 week delivery on Toshiba 300MVi medium voltage VFD
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Oil Field NewsLetter (low volume)
Keep on Going
09/14/09 @ 19:23
I had the first date that I had ever had in Saudi Arabia with a little sweet thang that went to the university in Europe. Her father worked for Aramco and everyone was invited to the party around the end of December. I was going to wear a really smart looking grey suit. My shoes were shined and so was I. Saudi Arabia hadn’t seen men’s fashion at its best. Talk about looking good, this is prime time. I hadn’t danced in months and surely had not touched a female in months. Everybody had a still and I was sure a feller could get a drink or two. I was sure that it was going to be OilFieldTrash gone wild once again. I can’t wait, the excitement is unbearable, and it’s party time. The closer I got to time to go the more excited I became. I was in a hurry to get out of the door before the phone rang and ruined everything.
The only reason that I was in town was because my pump truck was in jail. Yes, my pump truck was in jail. A taxi had run into the back of the pump truck and when something like that happens in Saudi, everybody and everything involved goes to jail. We had no mobile phones. I thought if I could just get out of there before the phone rang they wouldn’t hunt me down. Maybe they would call someone else.
To be so young and dumb should have been a crime. I was putting on the finishing touches when the phone rang. My heart was in my throat, I was 23 years old and I really needed to go to this party with sweet thang, really bad. I did not want to answer it. How many times had it rung? What would you do? I hoped it was sweet thang telling me to hurry, that she couldn’t stand to be alone for another minute. That’s right. It wasn’t sweet thang.
Working International has certain perks. Promotions come quickly due to necessity. There were no Testers available for a DST (Drill Stem Test). I was called down to the shop and was instructed on what to do and how to get this little test done. After re-ragging, I didn’t look as pretty in my coveralls. I was hardly even cute anymore. I never saw sweet thang again. Romance was put on hold, once again. This wasn’t the first or the last time that working would get in front of my love life.
Santa Fe rig 75 was way down in the dessert. My instructions were to head to Al Hufuf and then toward Riyadh. There would be a rig sign on the south side of the road about 110 km. before Riyadh. Danny Pritchard had recently driven this road and he gave me some tips that would prove to be very critical to my safe arrival to the rig. Danny said to turn South at the rig sign and go along the road for 68 km. where I would find the old location, if I was on the right path. The road stopped here. Continue south until you find a huge pipeline with bad sand on both sides of the pipeline. Bad sand is really soft and is always where people get stuck. Danny said that I needed to be running at least 70 miles per hour when I jumped the pipeline. There was a ramp built up both sides of this pipeline that had a hard but dirt surface. The problem was bad sand on both sides. You had to be running 70 mph to get through the bad sand and make the jump far enough to get through the bad sand on the other side. If you lived through the jump, go south to the rig. Roads, we don’t need no stinking roads, go south. South is not the direction that anybody needs to go in Saudi Arabia. There ain’t nothing down there. How far south?
Santa Fe 75 was a real good rig and the Aramco man was Bob Gouch, one of the best. Bob wouldn’t let you get into any trouble. He made sure everything was right before starting the job. It was Bob’s Dodge Power Wagon that Jess and I stole in the “Rub’ Al Khali” to go sand surfing. This actually happened pre-sand surfing in Saudi.
As a young West Texas boy, I laid outside under the stars in the summer time to study the heavens. It was just what you did. You learned about star formations and directional tips by only using the stars as your guide. Growing up in a small West Texas town with very little to do, organizations such as the Boys Scouts of America or Little League have everyone involved. The lessons learned by being a part of these organizations shape one’s ideals and abilities.
I called sweet thang and apologized for having to work. She did understand, her Dad was in the oilfield too. I had the string of test tools in the bed of the half ton 1972 GMC pickup and good directions that I could follow. I filled up all of my fuel tanks with benzene and had some canned cheese, bananas and water. Who could ask for more? On the road again, before Willie ever sung it. With a little drop of luck and my past experiences I feel like I will make it just fine.
Finding the Santa Fe 75 rig sign proved to be the first challenge. The more west you went the further away from GASP light you got. A GASP is where they burned off all of the natural gas from the oil wells. Nothing on the horizon, just darkness and I mean darkness. If you have never been on this road, then you don’t know how far it is, to Riyadh to start with. Trying to really pay attention to everything on the south side of the road for 200 miles is tiring. Finding the rig sign proved extremely hard. Life is good.
I stopped and strapped my fuel tanks before I departed from the highway. You can only drive as far as half of your fuel will allow. It insures that you can get back to this point where you can find help. The road was marked pretty good so you could find your way. The first 68 km. were no problem at all. I found the old location just where it was supposed to be. This is where the road runs out. Some trucks have left a few tracks but they are hard to see, especially at night. I know that it is a long way to the rig so I checked the stars and started south. There is nobody around at all. No light, no tracks, no fun and no sweet thang.
The pipeline was even worse than I had expected. You learn how to read the sand pretty quick. If you don’t learn you get stuck. Everybody gets stuck for the first couple of months here after that, you never get stuck again. Four wheel drive, we ain’t got no stinkin four wheel drive vehicles. This pickup is plain old vanilla half ton GMC. It has a radio but there are no English speaking radio stations. The soft sand before the hard ramp has gotten worse since Danny had been here. After checking out this side of the jump you can only expect that it is the same or maybe even worse on the other side. I figured that I would need to drive at least 80 mph to make it to the ramp and make the jump. I must clear enough bad sand to hit the ground running on the other side to make it through the soft part. I drove back away from the ramp and secured everything I could. I have jumped some pipelines but this is the biggest that I have seen. You either make it or you don’t there is no since in pondering the thought. Peddle to the metal, here we go. I had plenty of room to get my speed up and line up on the ramp as best I could. I was running 80 miles an hour when I hit the soft sand. It slowed me considerately but I was still at full power when I hit the hard ramp and shot out into the darkness as the motor revved up in flight. At the apex of the flight pattern one achieves weightlessness and so do all of those test tools in the back of the pickup. The landing was much more spectacular than the take off, we all did not hit the ground at the same time, and even a small string of test tools are heavy. I had to piss ant the ones that didn’t hit in the truck. It was 50 yards to the truck through that soft sand to the tools. I carried them all back into the truck. Life is good, I lived through the pipeline jump at least one way.
I drove for hours it seemed, nothing. No sign of anything. I decided that I was off track and surely was going to perish without a trace in this vast wilderness. No one will ever know what happened to me. Being a little scared and lost, you begin to drive faster and faster. Tires were not what they are today. Running 60 mph across the dessert in the middle of the night will wake you right up when you blow out a front tire. I wished I was with sweet thang. It was dark, I was tired and I thought I would wait for daylight to change the tire.
Those little snakes get you when you get down on the ground with them. But the rig was waiting on me, so I changed the tire. Now, I had no spare tire. There is no sign of the rig. After changing the tire, I continued on south. I decided to check my fuel tanks and found that I really could not go any further. I had to make a decision. Do I turn around and save my life or do I go on and take a chance? There was nothing out there and I mean nothing. It was a tossup. Do I go back or do I go on? My lights were on bright of course. I could see something in front of me but I couldn’t make it out. I drove another little bit and there it was. Somebody had put a little sign that said “Keep on Going” in English and in Arabic. I knew that I was going to be alright. I drove south until I was down to my last tank of gas and had just about given up on seeing anyone ever again. Then there it was. Those were the prettiest rig lights that there have ever been. I made it.
Now I was going to run my first DST all by myself. When I pulled on to location, I noticed that they were drilling. I expected them to be waiting on my tools. I looked for the Aramco man Bob and found him in the recreation room/mess hall. He looked at me and said, “What are you doing here?” I said that I had the tools for the Drill Stem Test. “Oh”, Bob said, “We changed our mind, we are not going to test. Didn’t they tell you?”
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