4 Oilfield Mindsets That Are About To Change

It seems to be too easy for industry participants to forget the naturally cyclical nature of oil and gas. Too many of us are still living in a kind of boom-time dream world. Psychologists say that we fill the gaps of our perception with a mental model of how we "think" the world works. When reality changes, we struggle to change our perceptions. Back in the 70s, in the fast moving world of IT, when makers of 14" hard disk drives couldn’t see the impact of new 8" drive technologies, entire companies disappeared before perceptions changed.

Is this about to happen to some oil service companies?

Trend #1: Oil Service Companies Will Refocus On Their Core Skill-Sets

The term "Service Company" is used here to mean all those contractors that provide services to oil companies. At 65, I’m old enough to have seen how the oil industry’s 20-25 year boom-bust cycles work. I recall my first floater back in the 70s, when the crew themselves stripped down and repaired rig equipment wherever we had a moment’s downtime. The rig was old and not very beautiful, but we all knew that so long as we drilled well and didn’t break down, the rig (therefore us) could stay in work. The company didn’t employ subsea engineers- the mechanic helped the drill crew service the subsea BOP. The company had no money for outside contractors. If an engine needed new pistons, we overhauled it ourselves.

Here is the modern 2016 version: An oilfield workshop friend tells me he conducts good business sending his workers to visit fully crewed up working rigs to carry out small stuff that the crew should be doing- such as opening, cleaning and dressing choke manifold valves. While these 3rd party workers are fixing rig equipment, the driller and roughnecks sit around playing on Facebook on their smartphones. This is a sign of a boom time mentality in an era when the spare cash to throw away on oil boom behaviors is about to come to an abrupt halt.

Each kind of oil service company has a base set of skills. For example, the people employed by production testing contractors have particular skills to operate, repair and maintain high pressure equipment such as vessels, pipes and valves. Lack of money dictates that the more agile contractors within this sector will stop sending items with minor issues to 3rd party workshops; they will instead start fixing routine problems in-house. The days of contractors outsourcing to third parties what should be their core skills is about to stop.

Trend #2: OEM Overcharging

In an oil boom, OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) can overcharge the oil service contractors with impunity. Send a choke manifold valve, or travelling blocks to an OEM workshop and suffer a repair bill 90% of new the price. This business model works in an era of sky high day rates. That era is on its way out. I recall that we once took some new jackups to work in ’82 for $42,000/day. When that contract expired in ’85, we went back to work for a very painful $12,000/day.

When the oil companies get their chance to take advantage of the service companies, there will be no more oil service contractors paying OEM workshops $18,000 to repair a $20,000 valve.

Trend #3: Safety Fascism

I can recall a time when too much attention was given to getting the job done without sufficient regard for job safety. A new safety and quality mindset which swept the industry in the 80s was a welcomed fresh breeze. But we now have lurched too far towards "politically correct over-zealous safety fascism," where a new class of dull untalented safety drones who can’t perform effective work themselves have been empowered to disrupt the work of the productive with a plethora of totalitarian often illogical safety and quality rules. Sometimes these are even made up on the spot.

For example, new rigs these days come with well equipped machine shops, where the mechanic can quickly weld and machine, out of raw stock, new components (e.g. a shaft or a cover plate.) But too many rig workshops lie largely underutilized as the mechanic fears being named and accused in a storm of emails of "using home made components" in his repairs.

An office drone, out to make a name for himself, spots the mechanics or assistant driller doing some essential in-house repairs, such as redressing high pressure valves. Because he has never learned how to clean and dress a valve himself, he makes a name for himself by stopping the job and sending out a flood of emails declaring that this class of work should be outsourced to some "certified" third party workshop – at great and unnecessary expense to the owner. The "certified workshop" is likely to send some minimum wage coolies (dressed in smart looking coveralls) who know less about servicing high pressure valves than the driller and roughnecks do, anyway.

Trend #4: Sensibly Priced Repair Services

In a money strapped market environment, a new class of non-OEM, API monogrammed workshops, will arise (or adapt themselves) to repair the equipment of the oil service contractors at sensible prices. Meanwhile, directors and shareholders of the big OEM manufacturers will resist cutting margins, meaning that the pricing mindset of the 1970s 14" hard disk drive makers may well continue well into the downturn, making room for smaller more agile service shops to spring up.

Emerging Oilfield Trends

  • Offshore contractors will select crewmen with the skills and motivation to maintain equipment in-house.
  • Contractors will learn how to better preserve their expensive assets so that they don’t rot away in just a few years (as many do now).
  • New workshops, will engineer simple solutions to expensive over-automated OEM systems, to provide owner-friendly / user-friendly modifications and retrofits.


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3 comments to 4 Oilfield Mindsets That Are About To Change

  • Great article read with deep interest. Very curious how you feel about new retrofit systems to give full time structural monitoring of critical vessels and platforms with data feeding back to design and safety engineering. Facilitating life extension as well as safe operation.~

    • evanjbatam

      Modern sensing devices are so relatively cheap and easy to install that we could use more imagination , where to use them. e.g. Instead of wastefully stripping down the crown cluster to carry out a “just in case” inspection, why not install an ultrasonic transducer that detects impending bearing failure, well in advance of bits of bearings starting to fall out of the derrick?

  • Evan

    79 comments reposted from http://oilpro.com/post/21727/4-oilfield-mindsets-to-change

    Comments (79)

    Jackie Gillispie · Jan 22 · Reply · Like · 18
    Evan Jones; Damn good article. So much of our workforce, and old school ways has been pushed aside by the MBA’s that are running oil companies now. We must get back to being oilfield hands instead of oilfield warm bodies.

    David Demerson · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 16
    This is good stuff!!! I especially like Trend #3. Not to lighten the importance of working safe but many companies have gone far beyond what is necessary and have “dumbed down” new employees with safety policies that negate common sense.

    Sydney Glick · Jan 24 · Reply · Like · 8
    Ditto the above. The one safety meeting I actually remember is the one that included “Don’t put your fingers anywhere you wouldn’t put your dick”. Much more instructional (and memorable) than a 20 minute incident report from page 247 of “The Manual”. I also apologize for my use of pejorative language as I know field personnel are a sensitive bunch.

    William Edwards · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 13
    I hope this fine article gets the widespread circulation that it deserves. Intelligent, common sense thinking applies to any business. It is necessary in times both good and bad, but particularly in times bad. Thanks, Evan. Experience teaches, but only to those students smart enough to receive and understand the lesson.

    Tom Kirkman · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 3
    @WilliamEdwards: Happy to see you aren’t being reticent…

    Bill Robison · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 8
    Wow! Someone with the sense to say the truth about safety! Common sense was replaced with “Politically Correct” non productive ways to work their ways into high paying oilfield jobs! How many hands have gone down to heat exhaustion from wearing Proper PPE! How much is spent on FRC’s for personnel who are not even involved with field work? Work Smart! Work Safe!

    Brian Barr · Jan 22 · Reply · Like · 7
    Totally agree with all points Evan, I am only 5 years younger than you and can remember the days that you speak of and how it used to be. I could not agree more on your perception on how the safety culture has gotten totally out of hand – more restrictive than helpful. Seems we are not allowed to just rely on good old common sense anymore. Great article!

    Suleyman Sari · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 7
    Great points. it may not be the correct wrong term, excuse my English, but I think also the skill dilution will probably lessen. In boom time, people progress in their careers a bit too fast too early, as there is immediate need for people with certain titles and not enough time for them to ripen. So the process is accelerated, by shortening training periods, loosening the minimum competency requirements, etc. This way, many half-skilled half-baked people kept ascending the levels, imho. I think we’ll see a change in this aspect as well in the current environment.

    Jill Friedman · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 6
    Great article and I agree with all your good points. One thing I would add: sending people ashore for expensive ‘training’ that used to be done on the job (and MUCH better results), but now we are forced to go ashore in order to get that piece of paper, without which we can’t work. I can only hope that will also change, but I think those training centers are making way too much money to go away without a HUGE fight, especially when most have already got the force of law behind them.

    George Sheehan · Jan 23 · Reply · Unlike · 6
    As far as safety, I have seen one company that tracked injuries and learned that most injuries were hand related. Instead of coming to the conclusion that your hands are the most used part of your body and it would make sense that hand injuries were the most common (you don’t use your teeth for making repairs) they went on a campaign to eliminate hand injuries. They bought tools for Roustabouts to keep from getting their hands on loads and everyone was required to wear gloves specific to the job. The next year, hand injuries increased. The people doing the job got the mentality from management that if they wore the correct glove, they wouldn’t get hurt.

    Thomas Hicks · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 6
    I started working in the oil field 1958, in South Louisiana, I remember standard Derricks and rig builders, and we moved big rigs with trucks only, no fork lifts or cranes, when we were rigged up we used the outside line to move equiptment around the location,, we didnt have csg crews for surface pipe and used a endless rope to make up csg., laying down drill pipe we didn’t have lay dn machines ,we used a suicide line and snach block,pipe and dc’s and csg. was unloaded without a forklift,onto the pipe racks, we didn’t have string up crews and went routinley from 8 to 10 to 12 lines in the derrick, mud products were unloaded by the rig crew sometime barge loads of mud products if you was on a inland bardge, we would boiler house drill pipe strap if we were making fast hole and strap on first trip out of the hole, totco surveys were run in the dog house a lot.we only had mill tooth bits without sealed bearings and a trip was a daily event,, we would use only one pair of tongs and run into the the pipe if the company would allow us, there was no nipple up crews and we did our own testing of the bop’s , i worked for Kelly drilling co out of Houma louisiana and the Driller had to be a welder ,he welder he welded the well head on surface, Once working for Kelly i hurt my hand running surface pipe and they sent me to a Dr in Houma and the first thing he asked me was how is my old rig doing, he was was one of the owners.We worked on all Equiptment on the rig and only a fue times we had a diesel mec. come out and we gave him all the help he needed, we didn’t have automatic drillers and the worm got some Brake time in the rain or cold, We could trip 10 to 12 k in 8 hr’s and be back drilling, I remember My first saftey meeting , the crew was in the dog house and the driller said we will discuss laying dn dp and the the tool pusher said two pair of gloves and no lunch go back to work. Here is a poem abput he old days

    We had a hundred and ninety set backs and it was freezing cold the rain was coming down and fixing to snow The driller jumped up and said lets come out the hole We said set down driller and dont fret, we going to get a little rest The driller said we goning to rest but not yet Go down there and dress us a new bit We had nine rows out an he shiffted into high, and passed that derrick man right on by We skimped ans scurred and no place to go and the blocks trapped old Joe on the floor He looked up with tears in his eyes and said old driller don’t appologize Im going where all the good hands go The Kelly made of Silver and the bits made of Gold The co man and the pusher make all the connections And you never come out of the hole

    The oil field will come back,

    Tim Sanderson · Jan 22 · Reply · Like · 5
    I agree with Jackie, excellent article, and should be widely circulated.

    Robert Kilgore · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 4
    Agree, but one thing I have experienced is the operators require OEM or certified OEM to work on most of the rig equipment, especially BOP and related equipment! And they call for 3 year recertification. I liked the old days much better when we could repair our rig equipment on the rig! And also it is very true about the college degree flunkies with zero experience running or in upper management of companies!

    Tim Jones · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 4
    Great article. As one made the comment, hands on training. Most of the older hands have hands on training. We are jack of all trades and master of none. However must of use did not acquire a college education, therefore when the ax fell we fell. We have seen major changes the past 36 years, the type of people, safety, type of rigs. They say we are more productive now, are we really. Drilling has improved, but cost has risen, safety has improved, but has the ratio to the number of people improved. Maybe someday the service companies and drilling contractors will bring back some of the hands that were cost efficient, instead of the spin masters. I for one would like to go back to work, but this is different from 86″, we really drilled ourselves out of work in oil & gas, and know that most of us older hands that are not company men may not see the oilfield again.

    Daniel Guillory · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 4
    Good article but remember the reason safety came into play. Back in the day you had hands not sueing crazed people. You smashed a finger ur buddy wrapped it with a rags and duct tape. If you bumped into someone while driving you paid the damage not ur insurance or your dad. In today’s world of children raising their parents instead of the other way around, we are running out of those good hearted ol boys. Why work when I can sustain an injury and Sue the he’ll out of you. You should be able to be that safety boss unless you have some true hands on experience. So I believe in the safety, but coming from someone with common sense. Just don’t take it to extremes. I literally had to run off someone for being on a four and a half ft tall flat surface because he was not tied off. Wtf. Give me something to tie off too first provide solutions any hard working boy will play along. U shouldn’t have to redo a dam piece of paper because the job step changed or someone joined in to help. What happened to speech. Talk to the man. Get him up to par If he can’t handle it then send him back home to his video games. Oh. Your phone should stay in your truck not on the job to play and argue with your girlfriend. Offshore u were lucky to talk to family once a hitch and it’s cost a butt load if money. You don’t get paid to play on ur phone Enough said. But I enjoyed the read.

    George Sheehan · Jan 23 · Reply · Unlike · 4
    I always loved how we would send something out to be repaired and then when it came back, the “repair” was pressure washing and a new paint job. Then we’d fix it ourselves like it should have been done the first time. I can see some of the point against rig made tools as I’ve seen things that would have been made better by a 2 year old, but, I’ve also witnessed items that were made better than the OEM. I’ve even seen some OEM manuals with directions and dimensions for building the tool needed, but the company wanted to buy it for 5x the price rather than have someone that knew what they were doing build it on the rig.

    Mike Black · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 4
    Ryan, I think promotion should be earned not just because you hold a piece of paper. For me you build up experience then you get promotion. Over the last few years while the industry was booming I so too many people promoted after only holding a position for 1 year. Assistance drillers becoming drillers after only 1 year as AD because he could operate the brake handle. These guys are not drillers, they are brake hands and very dangerous. You also talk about old guys still going offshore and never moved out of the “hand category”. This is a stupid statement. People make their own choices for different reasons.

    Arthur (Tee) Portas · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 3
    Good observation. There is an old adage that goes something like this …. Operators and Service Companies have a sexual relationship…. one is always screwing the other! Now is the time for agile quick/smart folks to get their foot in the door with novel approaches to age old problems, all we need is a pinch pf capital.

    Rob Young · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 3
    Outstanding article Evan. This truly speaks to me and says it like it is and should be. I learned the old school ways first starting out working service rigs in the early 80s. The only days off we had were when things broke that we couldn’t fix ourselves, and there weren’t too many of them as we had plenty of lads off the farm where welding and mechanical instincts were commonplace. I especially enjoyed the piece about safety……those that can’t or never have …go into safety. It’s particularly distressing to see this trend and not just in oil and gas. My opinion is that if you’re doing something stupid or unsafe and you get injured you shouldn’t be rewarded for bad behaviour. Here’s a novel thought…….if you don’t have the aptitude for the work …….maybe you should consider doing something else. We’ve all been at that starting point somewhere along the line but let’s face it we’ve seen some guys who we just knew weren’t going to make good hands plain and simple. I could go on ………but the first class article spoke volumes and has stated it superbly.

    Jonathan Henson · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 3
    Daniel: you hit safety on the head = common sense. Most rig hands know the right thing to do. When they don’t it is the driller’s job to lead in safety on the drill floor, not the safety advisor. A good safety advisor is NOT a cop. (Rent-a-cops with guns always win no matter how silly they sound.) A great safety advisor is there to support, encourage, traind, ADVISE and otherwise put theory to work, where practical, on the drill floor. As a safety professional, sometimes we are our own worst enemies. I have seen some great safety advisors on rigs make a difference.

    Evan Jones · Jan 23 · Reply · 3
    Good term Safety “Advisor” (I tend to think of them as Safety “Officers”). Whenever I’ve held the authority, I push the Safety guys to support the front line workers, not just bully and police them. e.g. If a safety officer spots a welder using a bad oxy-acetylene hose, I want the safety guy to arrange a new one, not the welder. The welder’s work has more priority.

    Alan Aldrich · Jan 23 · Reply · Unlike · 3
    When I came on 20 years ago, I worked under an “Old Timer.” There was no “downtime” in his crew: you broke down and cleaned as you finished. If something malfunctioned or broke, you fixed it yourself. When he was “retired” during the last downturn, all we got in replacement were whiners who couldn’t do anything for themselves (same with operators who think cleaning equipment is “beneath” them). He taught me to create/build/adapt tools (some of which have been patent-worthy).

    Victor Schmidt · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 2
    Excellent insights; there’s only one fly in the ointment – mechanical training and hands-on experience. Unless you have some very experienced hands on the rig that really know how to dress a valve with the requisite mechanical skills, the crew will create a greater problem than they seek to solve. Let the mechanic use his skills and be sure there are one or two hands in training to learn from him!

    Stephen Watkins · Jan 23 · Reply · Like
    The hands that you require, Are there if their “Management” has a simple amount of “Common Sense”!

    Charles Drobny · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 2
    Can’t say I agree with the same level of totality. It’s a market driven economy [author’s words] and when someone else arrives on scene with a price discriminator the price goes down. If there is insufficient supply or differences in performance or timely availability the price goes up. Isn’t that what’s happening to crude now? I simply cannot embrace concepts like fair and sensible prices. Is there some formula that determines at what level price over cost becomes so? If so who sets the bar? If there is overcharging then is there then also overpaying? Do sellers brandish guns and knives during negotiations? I’m the same age and yes I do have an MBA and I’ve seen tremendous progress in automation, technology, process and safety. I’ve also seen cyclical swings – like the one we’re in now. I don’t yearn for the good ole days.

    Charles Minshew · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    At Larry Bartram; good article. Like CD states, overcharging? What is different is the myriad sets of rules designed by office managers that “should” make things better, safer, etc. What we have lost is the generalist; can we get them back–conditions will determine. Note the $42K/day rig that came back to work at $12K/day; were they overcharging; or was that the market?

    Ben Chapman · Jan 23 · Reply · Like
    @CharlesMinshew: I would also agree that it’s a condition of the market. No one forces someone to pay out of line rig day rates, OEM repairs, etc. if it’s not worth it to them…

    Glen Blakely · Jan 23 · Reply · Unlike · 2
    Fr coveralls ,, we often blame it as useless tool because we don’t understand why we need it. What it was designed for Fr. clothing is protective equipment that has purpose It is misunderstood for most part because very rarely anyone talks about incident prevention – removal of fuel and ignition sources .Fires and explosions. Working with hydro carbons daily not understanding why flash fires occur and the co ncequenses from them is silly in this day and age. Clothing that saves skin for the doctor to work with and save your life is a good thing,with out it–you may have died in that incident. Clothing that burns in a flash fire is a hazard , clothing that provides protection and saves skin is a life saver. Fr clothing has been around now for 40 or more years. The product selection is large. You work in the heat purchase a lighter weight of fabric. Wear cotton shorts underneath it. Don’t blame a product that has saved life’s and suffering. Blame your self for not researching the product .i was in a terrible flash fire. To see your pal suffer and die because of what he wore that day to work is horrible. Fr. saves life’s. Respect it. It is like –the eye protection,now everyone uses it. We rebel against things we don’t understand. Thought I would add my two cents. Glen b. Just consulting Usa

    Ryan Romero · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 2
    I’m sorry but the only thing that will not remain in the new oilfield is the older generation that made all of this a reality. It is your generations fault we are so stuck on safety. Your generation came offshore with the intent of getting hurt for a payout. Your generation got people’s limbs cut off because those “fixes” failed and made the companies go to third party. Your generation clinging on to your old ways and trying to make a name for yourselves just to, “get it done” has been the reason for all of the things you mentioned. If you are over 60 and are still going offshore, then you never moved up out of the “hand” category. Its time to move on and let the next generation show you what we can do. If you haven’t saved your money by now then you never will. I’m sorry but you are just holding up promotions, but that is about to change.

    Robert Walter · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    certainly there is some truth to that, not as much as there is in this article though.

    Tim Jones · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 2
    I don’t usually air out, but your today safety is hypocrisy at the highest. I believe in safety first, however most in the drilling industry, this is just a motto for insurance. I am blacklisted now because of the today’s safety double standard. I stopped a job offshore working for the big blue service hierarchy. The company men continued to push the boundaries without consent, i questioned the actions, and stopped the job after seeing they were not going to back off. The get it done at all cost” mentality was in full swing. Company men told me I was not going to stop the job. They continued to drill, then, but the parameters were under control. Since I was working a double shift and training a hand that had just come out, I got a call at 3am asking me what the #@%^ I was doing, cussed out. Laid-off 16 days later. This is not the only story I have from the past 5 safer year. Hands not being drug tested, because they can not find hands, until it is time to lay-off. Asking to be relieved from the job site because too many of the hands on location were too drunk or stoned to work with.Plus many more. The reality is Today’s oilfield is not safer, we use to watch each others back, now they just watch their phones and computer screens. They may not smoke pot in the open, like the past. But the eyes and actions are the same. I did go in the office, but didn’t like the lying and arrogance of the failed field hands. .And yes I did save my money, setting on my ranch thinking, do I really want to go back to work with college geniuses that tell everyone how good they are and couldn’t drill themselves out of a paper sack. As with all generations, their are good hand out their, but through the years they had the same understanding, “each day I can learn something new”.

    Chris Hart · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 3
    Terrible comment! Sorry you have never had the good fortune to work with any good, experienced people that have been around for a long time and if you think the “next” generation is the savior of the oilfield, then you are sorely mistaken!

    Jason Andrews · Jan 24 · Reply · Like · 2
    No kidding. When I broke out in ’95 that’s how it was, to advance you had to know more than what you were hired to do. This weeds out the ass kissers and will allow the dedicated to continue earning a living in the industry we love.

    Curtis Stewart · Jan 24 · Reply · Like · 2
    Four men were burnt to death north of Midland working on a seperator last October. All had on the required FR’s and H2S monitors. Only problem was it was sweet crude so the monitors did not alarm. The crew was not doing any “hot work” only replacing Victaulic connections. Static discharge is the suspected culprit.

    The oilfield has bought into the FR manufacturer’s bullshift. Safety people want to use “systems” that in their minds will compensate for inexperienced workers. To spend the time to train workers in hazard recognition and resolution takes away from mor important activities.

    Like developing safety systems. FR is safety’s flavor of the decade. Instead of teaching proper pre-job PPE assessment the HSE weasels decide everyone should wear them.

    What does it cost? 12 sets of coveralls runs $700.00 plus. If you put your people in button up shirts and pants you are looking at $12-1500. A little dressy and you hit $2 grand. Then you have the uniform company cost.

    And people still get burnt up wearing the durn things!

    They have their place, but the place burnt down, covered in FR’s.

    Tom Kirkman · Jan 22 · Reply · Like · 1
    Chiming in here as well… excellent article.

    Danny Whited · Jan 22 · Reply · Like · 1
    Common sense folks! We need to keep doing what got us here. Great article!

    Don Winkleman · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Changing trend number 3 too much can set you up for a nice trip to a court room. Turn a rig welder loose on a valve, or BOP and see how that plays in court when it fails. “Certification” is an issue of due diligence and minimizing liability. Smart quality and safety are needed.

    William Edinger · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 2
    There are a lot of good things that have come from the last 15 to 20 years of increased safety measures. Anyone can make a long list (and others will assuredly correct them for leaving some things off.) That being said, the same can be said for the unnecessary things. The list may not be as long, but they are there. Some “safety” measures are not only unnecessary, but also increase personal danger. So as not to go into a diatribe, I will only use one example, but there are more. Flame Retardent Clothing. FRC’s, as they are known to most of us, are nothing more than a means to make some lobbyists money. After one good dousing of oil base mud, or a few washings, they are no better at retarding a flame than the wick of a candle. But, you get caught without them on many (if not most) rigs, you might just as well have ridden the blocks up to the derrick (I know some of you ypunger guys have never had that fun or even know what it is. You older guys most likely have a story or two about it.)

    In my 35 years in the patch, I have seen my share of accidents. but I have never seen anyone sponteneously burst into flames, regardless of the inflammability of the work environment, and more to the point, regardless of what clothing they wore. On the other hand, I have seen numerous heat related incidents CAUSED by FRC’s.

    FRC’s have cost almost everyone in the oil business some quantity of money. Some companies provide them, some hands buy them themselves, but either way, they cost 3-5 times as much as average work clothes. In addition to the up front costs, indirect costs have resulted from their requirement. I have seen roughnecks (and others) caught without them and had to go change clothes. I have seen company men run off service companies for sending people out without FRC’s. I have seen Safety guys stop work and write up hands because their shirts were not tucked in, their sleeves were rolled up, buttons not buttoned, and for for having holes in their shirt, pants or coveralls. I have even seen work stopped because some bright bulb with a pen in one hand and STOP card in the other was writing up some lucky roughneck because he could not see the requisite patches on the FRC’s. All of these cost time, which is money..

    Just one example, others may want to take some of their own time to chime in with additional ones.

    Evan Jones · Jan 23 · Reply · 2
    The example used in the article was that of dressing high pressure gate valves. There is no mention of anybody welding on valve bodies. The reason why valves in the choke and kill manifold need constant maintenance is because expensive internal surfaces can corrode if the valves are not routinely greased and less often, opened and cleaned. Prevent corrosion and you eliminate the need for shops to weld and re-machine the internal sealing surfaces. These valves were designed (before anybody reading this website was born) for easy rig serviceability. The instructions in the packet tell the rig hand how to install the new repair kit. Do it wrong and the valve leaks. No training school needed; just take it apart and do it again properly.

    John Whitehead · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    So much common sense reflected hear, Wow. Nice to see!

    Barry Fulton · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Totally agree with you final comment Robert about the people with college degrees with zero experience who can manage the job on computer screens but can’t get their head round the actual practical timescales of doing the tasks.

    Michael Long · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Very good article, he is right about OEM’s. We paid outrageous prices and if your late with the payment, they charged you late fees. High late fees.

    Luis Tovar · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Thanks Evan and hope the Oar House in Batam keeps flowing! Cheers mate!

    Allen Aucoin · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Evan i love this article and agree wholeheartedly. In the old days we could fix whatever needed to be done and now it seems they would rather replace than repair or are told to replace rather than repair from the ” Safety Department ” Common Sense has long been lost to processes and procedures. The problem with that is that the processes and procedures can’t account for everything that can happen and if you allow no common sense then the system shuts down.

    Thomas MacInnes · Jan 28 · Reply · Like
    Very good comment Allen. The replace and repair mentality is rife in the industry now.

    Robin Carson · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Very good article, well thought out and presented, thanks…………………

    Kevin Boucher · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Great article. Several points why many companies were overstaffed

    Paul Gautreaux · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Great article and #3 is right on!

    Stephen Denton · Jan 23 · Reply · Like
    Evan, great article. Thank you. Point #3 is right on but it is right on because you used reasonable examples of HSE poorly implemented. As a HSE professional (and a relatively new one at that) I agree that poorly implemented HSE can do all of us a disservice. There are a number of reasons why HSE can get derailed: 1) Corporate decision making – You cannot blame HSE if they are enforcing corporate policy. Floor HSE and often higher HSE up the chain often disagree with some of the policy and procedures they are required to enforce but are vulnerable to termination for not enforcing. When this happens how often does the project or rig manager produce site procedures over-ruling corporate procedures to support on site HSE. Extremely rarely. 2) Exposure to liability – Certain things cannot be done without exposing the company to liability. 3) Inappropriate blanket HSE policy and procedures – Rather than letting HSE professionals on site make informed decisions the enforcement of one size fits all policies and procedures from high above, often from corporate offices 1000’s km away often by people who have never been in the field. 4) HSE laziness – Applying a general rule when the situation can be risk assessed and appropriate controls put in place. 5) Regulations & rules – Required to be enforced by industry, client, local and regional government authorities. Clients often enforce their safety management systems and despite project HSE objections if it is contractually required and your HSE management team has lost its battle to change it they may have little choice but to follow it. 6) Individuals and groups using apparent safety issues to slow work progress to extend the life of the project.
    7) HR – Many have stated that too many HSE personnel have degrees but no relevant experience. This sits solely at the feet of HR. It is getting near impossible to get a HSE position without a degree so HR are actively filtering out the HSE professionals with the desired experience who often don’t have a degree education. By default those with the degree generally have at least 3 less years of life experience in any field while they sat in study.
    In-house manufactured tools can be fine if they can be supported by sound engineering. In this game every one of us has access to engineers. Tell/show them what you are making, why and how and they should be able to provide engineering evidence that the tool is capable of performing the required task. If the science says your tool will fail then maybe the engineer just saved you and your company from a terrible incident. Keep in mind though that if the manufacturer says you cannot do this then you may have to refer back to item 2, exposure to liability. In many developed countries the LAW now says that if any significant accident occurs that could have been prevented someone has to PAY in some way or another. That is not the fault of the HSE professional. Like any other profession there are good, bad and average HSE personnel, policies and procedures. ( We’ve all witnessed some peanut who would rather run to his boss and say “look what I found” rather than stop and talk to the crew and ask why it’s being done like that or whether it might be safer to do it like this). We (HSE) should be there to provide advice and guidance within the limits of our knowledge to help develop solutions to ensure the work gets done safely not create drama for the sake of it. Sadly common sense (which is becoming rarer every day) no matter how good the intention, when poorly implemented can and has in the past, get/got people who often had no part of the decision making process killed and/or injured.

    Bottom lines – HSE is a good thing. Poorly implemented HSE is a bad thing.

    Evan Jones · Jan 30 · Reply
    @StephenDenton: > *5) Regulations & rules – Required to be enforced by industry, client, local and regional government authorities. * Yes, and we are all guilty of behaving like frightened sheep, when we meekly submit ourselves to stupid or counterproductive rules without comment or protest. See examples at http://oilpro.com/post/21838/three-sensible-safety-trends-we-would-like-to-see

    Taylor Clear · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    With crew sizes cut to the bone and the PM load remaining as it was, as well as operations and corrective maintenance and repair crises to deal with, who is going to be around to have the time to rewire a commutator? And what other items are you willing to have left undone while that job of work is performed?

    I’m all for jamming the “Paper Safety” people, but sadly, that gang owe their existence to personal injury attorneys, and those boys are like Congressmen…every one of ‘em is a scoundrel but YOURS. They’re here to stay.

    I came to the Patch after 20 years on Blue Water. In 2008, you could afford to be stupid. The fact is that now it’s a lot easier to stop bring rich than it is to start being smart.

    Ben Chapman · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    As someone who isn’t a lifetime O&G guy I obviously can’t speak to some of the history described here. But being married to wife who does consulting, safety, and risk management, I would probably point to one reason that is driving a lot of the changes described above: liability.

    It’s cheaper to sub-contract anything and everything and avoid the liability that would otherwise fall on your as the E&P. Then again, maybe frivolous lawsuits weren’t as prevalent back in the day either…

    Chris Sabulsky · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Great article teach the new crew on how things get done. Instead of kicking it to the curb.Lets put our hands on something and fix it out selfs.save money might learn something.what a concept.

    Robert Walter · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Best article of the year so far!

    Donnie Slape · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    i think the new reality is….drillers and roughnecks dont want to be mechanics. nor should they be. the new breed is the “flexnecks” that H&P made. good hands, know their stuff and show up every tour. if you want to start fixing everything using rig hands youre going to be hunting for hands (again). the old “as soon as you get done with that, start working on (fill in the blank). seems to be fading away. i have another secret for you…the old “we have to save 3 cents because times are hard is a bunch of crap. more time and money was lost re-running old doghouse rebuilt junk than was every saved. want to really save money? take care of your drillstring and handle it like the precision tool it is. subs and all.
    Show 2 More

    Evan Jones · Jan 25 · Reply
    @DonnieSlape: SPM gate valve? No , never heard of such a thing. Only SPM plug valves, which do indeed use special grease and which we often see the cementing people doing field rebuilds.

    Donnie Slape · Jan 25 · Reply · Like
    @EvanJones: yes I think so. They aren’t suitable for anywhere that might see frac sand. Big mistake. Unusable

    Donnie Slape · Jan 25 · Reply · Like
    I’ve had them so jammed I couldn’t get them apart for rebuild

    David Muller · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Great article, and it is relevant to the Construction industry as well.

    Neville Gaunt · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Excellent article – shows how a mindset shift into collaborative ways is dramatically needed. Back to the old days some have said – what that needs however is an old hand mindset but that can be done quickly if it’s wanted see http://www.mindfitltd.com

    Stuart Rea · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    Excellent article. Safety fascism has ruined the feel good factor of many a workplace, adding unnecessary stress to workers only trying to do their job.

    Stewart Wadden · Jan 24 · Reply · Like · 1
    Well written article, Part 1 though is somewhat incorrect. Subsea engineers were around in the early 70’s. 2 Companies come easily to mind Santa Fe (Bluewater 3) 1972 and the Offshore Company (Discoverer II) around 73. Am also sure that Odeco had them in 73/74. The rest I totally agree with.

    Evan Jones · Jan 25 · Reply
    The floater referred to in Part 1, drilled without a subsea engineer from 1966 to 1978. In 1979, Exxon insisted that the company employ one.

    Donnie Slape · Jan 25 · Reply · Like · 1
    No its gate valves. We tried using ball valves in a manifold. Boy was that a mistake. They would jam with sand and you couldnt open or close them. Either one. Heck who knows. What’s for lunch

    Rob Young · 2d ago · Reply · Like · 1
    As usual Jackie another outstanding articles and brings to mind many instances from my past where we just did the work ourselves and accepted that was the practice. It was often these skillsets that determined whether or not we got jobs in the first place. On the job training meant a great deal more then than it does today. I was shocked to learn that some learning institutes were offering courses on becoming roughnecks and charging 8 – 12,000 for the experience. OMG! If ever there was a useless cash cow for a learning institution this surely would qualify. Back in the day after doing a workover on a gas well, the service rig crew would lay the rig over and we would be the testers before the rig ever got released, Along came the specialized testers and lo and behold they don’t have a clue as to what they’re looking at or why. Same things apply with well head companies, valve manufactures……if you want a good service hand …..go find yourself an old service rig guy, to me that’s where the basics started and they’re often head over heels better than any engineering greenhorn.

    Danny Felder · Jan 23 · Reply · Like
    Service company’s with their own lubricator iron, hoses pumps, flanges, valves, all upkeep and certified by hand’s. Hand’s that actually know how stuff works. Sounds good to me

    Roger Pinard · Jan 23 · Reply · Like
    This is one of the best articles I have read in a long time. So true.

    Jan Tucker · Jan 23 · Reply · Like
    Wow, regarding point 3 I have to ask who your safety staff are – it sounds like they live in a overly prescriptive environment, are devoid of the ability to provide experience & risk-based practical decision making and certainly have no input to control excessive management feedback. I feel for both sides too since your safety culture also seems truly oppressed. In terms of FRC I agree with Glen’s point above = use what is fit for purpose, there is plenty of choice these days. In every case, if the potential risk is really not present, allow space to formally relax the standard until the risk re-surfaces…. Careful with common sense too – it’s a wide-jawed trap. I get what you are saying though (in my 35 years with the industry I too have seen the whole range of changes) and agree with the always-present liability storm (especially in the USA since they have written themselves into a corner). However, any case should be able to be defended under an umbrella of practicable risk-based decision-making – if not, what happened to Justice ?

    Robert Walter · Jan 23 · Reply · Like
    I miss those guys. Now we are the old men, so apply the experience.

    Dejan Smaic · Jan 24 · Reply · Like
    Well, to express my opinion regarding HSE…the H&S, and even the “E” is corporate policy as part of a business model to reduce future overhead expenses and the “L” word…Liability. EPA can fine $10,000/day in fines, millions in clean up costs, and wrongful death lawsuits in the millions and embarrassment. Not to mention the PR nightmare. Just sayin.

    I am all for cultural based H&S, because I do want to go home to my son. At the same time, I like to keep clean stream clean.

    Tim Winks · Jan 24 · Reply · Like
    With out a doubt one of the best and truthful articles I have ever read on this site. Espechely the safety aspect of the article! Well written sir!

    Donnie Slape · Jan 25 · Reply · Like
    Come to think of it…I think they may be ball valves not gate valves.

    Evan Jones · Jan 25 · Reply
    Plug valves?

    David Blackmore · Jan 25 · Reply · Like
    @EvanJones: Evan, an excellent article and without doubt you have stirred up responses, from us “older generation” folk (I’m only 3 years younger than you!) to the younger, upwardly mobile set! Donnie made an excellent point with the H&P reference to the drillers and floor hands working the flex rigs and I think this applies in general to a lot of the latest generation rigs coming out of the box from NABORS and others – way too high tech and the drillers who now sit in a cyber chair in an air conditioned cabin regard themselves right up their with pilots! I have to admit though that the analogy of looking under the hood of a car nowadays verses lifting the hood on a 1960 Chevy springs to mind – I would not even dream of lifting the hood on a modern car – it would scare the hell out of me – but I well remember the days you relate to (Douglas Carver for me with Reading & Bates in the late 1970’s) and you are right about there was no such thing as NPT – every spare moment you had was redressing pump pistons and valves or helping the mechanic with larger projects – having “specialists” on board was the reserve of catastrophic failures that could not be fixed by the personnel on board.

    Donnie Slape · Jan 25 · Reply · Like
    Something. A valve. I don’t even like hammer unions. I’m breaking the valve out and sending it to the valve shop and charging the whole thing to the operator or somebody. Let’s get some lunch

    Glen Blakely · Jan 25 · Reply · Like
    Fire and explosion. Fire resistant work wear updates Flash fire — this is term used for gas ignition. Similar to when you light your Barbie. One second and we are exposed to 2000 degrees c. Normal cotton or blended fabrics bust into flames or melt from 15o to 450 degrees c so anything that is not flame resistant bursts into flames. Flame resistant work wear has to be kept clean– the oil soaked coveralls will burn. — dry clean them so all flammable substances are removed . Wear light natural fibers under neath like cotton wool or silk. Do not wear any man made- synthetics -blends – nylon ect. They melt and cause further injury,as well are static generators,especially if they are worn under no mex garments. So when you are off to work, ensure your garnets are clean,-and when on the work site inspect for ignition sources and fuel sources- eliminate those–alwAys. Heard guys say the stuff washes out–/we’ll check for your self– flame resistant work wear is not turn out gear. Designed for a flash fire. 1 Sec. So a match is 500 degree. Hold a lit match on the edge of your ft for 9 Sec take the match away. There should be no flame. You will see white smoke. That smoke should smell like ammonia. No flame and ammonia smell means they are ok. If you see flame with a 50o degree match. Don’t wear them. Another very important thing we should review is first aid for burn survivors—- stop drop roll–then remove clothing. Cut away anything that is stuck. Cool the guy down for 15 to 20 minutes. Stop the burning process as quick as possible. Then treat for shock. Most burns become worse cause of poor first aid practices. Remember the guy that came out of that 2000 degree flash will be like a wiener from the micro wave, cool him down as fast as possible. Do not worry about infection. Hope this all helps. Be safe out there. Glen. Just consulting Usa

    Tom Spines · Jan 26 · Reply · Like
    Funny: even big industries change when they are totally out of liquidity and need to live in internally generated Cash Flow. Spending like it is out of “your own” pocket; not making friends or looking for shotguns etc. Fun agin when “one” starts to live within their means.Comments (79)

    Jackie Gillispie · Jan 22 · Reply · Like · 18
    Evan Jones; Damn good article. So much of our workforce, and old school ways has been pushed aside by the MBA’s that are running oil companies now. We must get back to being oilfield hands instead of oilfield warm bodies.

    David Demerson · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 16
    This is good stuff!!! I especially like Trend #3. Not to lighten the importance of working safe but many companies have gone far beyond what is necessary and have “dumbed down” new employees with safety policies that negate common sense.

    Sydney Glick · Jan 24 · Reply · Like · 8
    Ditto the above. The one safety meeting I actually remember is the one that included “Don’t put your fingers anywhere you wouldn’t put your dick”. Much more instructional (and memorable) than a 20 minute incident report from page 247 of “The Manual”. I also apologize for my use of pejorative language as I know field personnel are a sensitive bunch.

    William Edwards · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 13
    I hope this fine article gets the widespread circulation that it deserves. Intelligent, common sense thinking applies to any business. It is necessary in times both good and bad, but particularly in times bad. Thanks, Evan. Experience teaches, but only to those students smart enough to receive and understand the lesson.

    Tom Kirkman · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 3
    @WilliamEdwards: Happy to see you aren’t being reticent…

    Bill Robison · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 8
    Wow! Someone with the sense to say the truth about safety! Common sense was replaced with “Politically Correct” non productive ways to work their ways into high paying oilfield jobs! How many hands have gone down to heat exhaustion from wearing Proper PPE! How much is spent on FRC’s for personnel who are not even involved with field work? Work Smart! Work Safe!

    Brian Barr · Jan 22 · Reply · Like · 7
    Totally agree with all points Evan, I am only 5 years younger than you and can remember the days that you speak of and how it used to be. I could not agree more on your perception on how the safety culture has gotten totally out of hand – more restrictive than helpful. Seems we are not allowed to just rely on good old common sense anymore. Great article!

    Suleyman Sari · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 7
    Great points. it may not be the correct wrong term, excuse my English, but I think also the skill dilution will probably lessen. In boom time, people progress in their careers a bit too fast too early, as there is immediate need for people with certain titles and not enough time for them to ripen. So the process is accelerated, by shortening training periods, loosening the minimum competency requirements, etc. This way, many half-skilled half-baked people kept ascending the levels, imho. I think we’ll see a change in this aspect as well in the current environment.

    Jill Friedman · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 6
    Great article and I agree with all your good points. One thing I would add: sending people ashore for expensive ‘training’ that used to be done on the job (and MUCH better results), but now we are forced to go ashore in order to get that piece of paper, without which we can’t work. I can only hope that will also change, but I think those training centers are making way too much money to go away without a HUGE fight, especially when most have already got the force of law behind them.

    George Sheehan · Jan 23 · Reply · Unlike · 6
    As far as safety, I have seen one company that tracked injuries and learned that most injuries were hand related. Instead of coming to the conclusion that your hands are the most used part of your body and it would make sense that hand injuries were the most common (you don’t use your teeth for making repairs) they went on a campaign to eliminate hand injuries. They bought tools for Roustabouts to keep from getting their hands on loads and everyone was required to wear gloves specific to the job. The next year, hand injuries increased. The people doing the job got the mentality from management that if they wore the correct glove, they wouldn’t get hurt.

    Thomas Hicks · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 6
    I started working in the oil field 1958, in South Louisiana, I remember standard Derricks and rig builders, and we moved big rigs with trucks only, no fork lifts or cranes, when we were rigged up we used the outside line to move equiptment around the location,, we didnt have csg crews for surface pipe and used a endless rope to make up csg., laying down drill pipe we didn’t have lay dn machines ,we used a suicide line and snach block,pipe and dc’s and csg. was unloaded without a forklift,onto the pipe racks, we didn’t have string up crews and went routinley from 8 to 10 to 12 lines in the derrick, mud products were unloaded by the rig crew sometime barge loads of mud products if you was on a inland bardge, we would boiler house drill pipe strap if we were making fast hole and strap on first trip out of the hole, totco surveys were run in the dog house a lot.we only had mill tooth bits without sealed bearings and a trip was a daily event,, we would use only one pair of tongs and run into the the pipe if the company would allow us, there was no nipple up crews and we did our own testing of the bop’s , i worked for Kelly drilling co out of Houma louisiana and the Driller had to be a welder ,he welder he welded the well head on surface, Once working for Kelly i hurt my hand running surface pipe and they sent me to a Dr in Houma and the first thing he asked me was how is my old rig doing, he was was one of the owners.We worked on all Equiptment on the rig and only a fue times we had a diesel mec. come out and we gave him all the help he needed, we didn’t have automatic drillers and the worm got some Brake time in the rain or cold, We could trip 10 to 12 k in 8 hr’s and be back drilling, I remember My first saftey meeting , the crew was in the dog house and the driller said we will discuss laying dn dp and the the tool pusher said two pair of gloves and no lunch go back to work. Here is a poem abput he old days

    We had a hundred and ninety set backs and it was freezing cold the rain was coming down and fixing to snow The driller jumped up and said lets come out the hole We said set down driller and dont fret, we going to get a little rest The driller said we goning to rest but not yet Go down there and dress us a new bit We had nine rows out an he shiffted into high, and passed that derrick man right on by We skimped ans scurred and no place to go and the blocks trapped old Joe on the floor He looked up with tears in his eyes and said old driller don’t appologize Im going where all the good hands go The Kelly made of Silver and the bits made of Gold The co man and the pusher make all the connections And you never come out of the hole

    The oil field will come back,

    Tim Sanderson · Jan 22 · Reply · Like · 5
    I agree with Jackie, excellent article, and should be widely circulated.

    Robert Kilgore · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 4
    Agree, but one thing I have experienced is the operators require OEM or certified OEM to work on most of the rig equipment, especially BOP and related equipment! And they call for 3 year recertification. I liked the old days much better when we could repair our rig equipment on the rig! And also it is very true about the college degree flunkies with zero experience running or in upper management of companies!

    Tim Jones · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 4
    Great article. As one made the comment, hands on training. Most of the older hands have hands on training. We are jack of all trades and master of none. However must of use did not acquire a college education, therefore when the ax fell we fell. We have seen major changes the past 36 years, the type of people, safety, type of rigs. They say we are more productive now, are we really. Drilling has improved, but cost has risen, safety has improved, but has the ratio to the number of people improved. Maybe someday the service companies and drilling contractors will bring back some of the hands that were cost efficient, instead of the spin masters. I for one would like to go back to work, but this is different from 86″, we really drilled ourselves out of work in oil & gas, and know that most of us older hands that are not company men may not see the oilfield again.

    Daniel Guillory · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 4
    Good article but remember the reason safety came into play. Back in the day you had hands not sueing crazed people. You smashed a finger ur buddy wrapped it with a rags and duct tape. If you bumped into someone while driving you paid the damage not ur insurance or your dad. In today’s world of children raising their parents instead of the other way around, we are running out of those good hearted ol boys. Why work when I can sustain an injury and Sue the he’ll out of you. You should be able to be that safety boss unless you have some true hands on experience. So I believe in the safety, but coming from someone with common sense. Just don’t take it to extremes. I literally had to run off someone for being on a four and a half ft tall flat surface because he was not tied off. Wtf. Give me something to tie off too first provide solutions any hard working boy will play along. U shouldn’t have to redo a dam piece of paper because the job step changed or someone joined in to help. What happened to speech. Talk to the man. Get him up to par If he can’t handle it then send him back home to his video games. Oh. Your phone should stay in your truck not on the job to play and argue with your girlfriend. Offshore u were lucky to talk to family once a hitch and it’s cost a butt load if money. You don’t get paid to play on ur phone Enough said. But I enjoyed the read.

    George Sheehan · Jan 23 · Reply · Unlike · 4
    I always loved how we would send something out to be repaired and then when it came back, the “repair” was pressure washing and a new paint job. Then we’d fix it ourselves like it should have been done the first time. I can see some of the point against rig made tools as I’ve seen things that would have been made better by a 2 year old, but, I’ve also witnessed items that were made better than the OEM. I’ve even seen some OEM manuals with directions and dimensions for building the tool needed, but the company wanted to buy it for 5x the price rather than have someone that knew what they were doing build it on the rig.

    Mike Black · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 4
    Ryan, I think promotion should be earned not just because you hold a piece of paper. For me you build up experience then you get promotion. Over the last few years while the industry was booming I so too many people promoted after only holding a position for 1 year. Assistance drillers becoming drillers after only 1 year as AD because he could operate the brake handle. These guys are not drillers, they are brake hands and very dangerous. You also talk about old guys still going offshore and never moved out of the “hand category”. This is a stupid statement. People make their own choices for different reasons.

    Arthur (Tee) Portas · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 3
    Good observation. There is an old adage that goes something like this …. Operators and Service Companies have a sexual relationship…. one is always screwing the other! Now is the time for agile quick/smart folks to get their foot in the door with novel approaches to age old problems, all we need is a pinch pf capital.

    Rob Young · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 3
    Outstanding article Evan. This truly speaks to me and says it like it is and should be. I learned the old school ways first starting out working service rigs in the early 80s. The only days off we had were when things broke that we couldn’t fix ourselves, and there weren’t too many of them as we had plenty of lads off the farm where welding and mechanical instincts were commonplace. I especially enjoyed the piece about safety……those that can’t or never have …go into safety. It’s particularly distressing to see this trend and not just in oil and gas. My opinion is that if you’re doing something stupid or unsafe and you get injured you shouldn’t be rewarded for bad behaviour. Here’s a novel thought…….if you don’t have the aptitude for the work …….maybe you should consider doing something else. We’ve all been at that starting point somewhere along the line but let’s face it we’ve seen some guys who we just knew weren’t going to make good hands plain and simple. I could go on ………but the first class article spoke volumes and has stated it superbly.

    Jonathan Henson · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 3
    Daniel: you hit safety on the head = common sense. Most rig hands know the right thing to do. When they don’t it is the driller’s job to lead in safety on the drill floor, not the safety advisor. A good safety advisor is NOT a cop. (Rent-a-cops with guns always win no matter how silly they sound.) A great safety advisor is there to support, encourage, traind, ADVISE and otherwise put theory to work, where practical, on the drill floor. As a safety professional, sometimes we are our own worst enemies. I have seen some great safety advisors on rigs make a difference.

    Evan Jones · Jan 23 · Reply · 3
    Good term Safety “Advisor” (I tend to think of them as Safety “Officers”). Whenever I’ve held the authority, I push the Safety guys to support the front line workers, not just bully and police them. e.g. If a safety officer spots a welder using a bad oxy-acetylene hose, I want the safety guy to arrange a new one, not the welder. The welder’s work has more priority.

    Alan Aldrich · Jan 23 · Reply · Unlike · 3
    When I came on 20 years ago, I worked under an “Old Timer.” There was no “downtime” in his crew: you broke down and cleaned as you finished. If something malfunctioned or broke, you fixed it yourself. When he was “retired” during the last downturn, all we got in replacement were whiners who couldn’t do anything for themselves (same with operators who think cleaning equipment is “beneath” them). He taught me to create/build/adapt tools (some of which have been patent-worthy).

    Victor Schmidt · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 2
    Excellent insights; there’s only one fly in the ointment – mechanical training and hands-on experience. Unless you have some very experienced hands on the rig that really know how to dress a valve with the requisite mechanical skills, the crew will create a greater problem than they seek to solve. Let the mechanic use his skills and be sure there are one or two hands in training to learn from him!

    Stephen Watkins · Jan 23 · Reply · Like
    The hands that you require, Are there if their “Management” has a simple amount of “Common Sense”!

    Charles Drobny · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 2
    Can’t say I agree with the same level of totality. It’s a market driven economy [author’s words] and when someone else arrives on scene with a price discriminator the price goes down. If there is insufficient supply or differences in performance or timely availability the price goes up. Isn’t that what’s happening to crude now? I simply cannot embrace concepts like fair and sensible prices. Is there some formula that determines at what level price over cost becomes so? If so who sets the bar? If there is overcharging then is there then also overpaying? Do sellers brandish guns and knives during negotiations? I’m the same age and yes I do have an MBA and I’ve seen tremendous progress in automation, technology, process and safety. I’ve also seen cyclical swings – like the one we’re in now. I don’t yearn for the good ole days.

    Charles Minshew · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    At Larry Bartram; good article. Like CD states, overcharging? What is different is the myriad sets of rules designed by office managers that “should” make things better, safer, etc. What we have lost is the generalist; can we get them back–conditions will determine. Note the $42K/day rig that came back to work at $12K/day; were they overcharging; or was that the market?

    Ben Chapman · Jan 23 · Reply · Like
    @CharlesMinshew: I would also agree that it’s a condition of the market. No one forces someone to pay out of line rig day rates, OEM repairs, etc. if it’s not worth it to them…

    Glen Blakely · Jan 23 · Reply · Unlike · 2
    Fr coveralls ,, we often blame it as useless tool because we don’t understand why we need it. What it was designed for Fr. clothing is protective equipment that has purpose It is misunderstood for most part because very rarely anyone talks about incident prevention – removal of fuel and ignition sources .Fires and explosions. Working with hydro carbons daily not understanding why flash fires occur and the co ncequenses from them is silly in this day and age. Clothing that saves skin for the doctor to work with and save your life is a good thing,with out it–you may have died in that incident. Clothing that burns in a flash fire is a hazard , clothing that provides protection and saves skin is a life saver. Fr clothing has been around now for 40 or more years. The product selection is large. You work in the heat purchase a lighter weight of fabric. Wear cotton shorts underneath it. Don’t blame a product that has saved life’s and suffering. Blame your self for not researching the product .i was in a terrible flash fire. To see your pal suffer and die because of what he wore that day to work is horrible. Fr. saves life’s. Respect it. It is like –the eye protection,now everyone uses it. We rebel against things we don’t understand. Thought I would add my two cents. Glen b. Just consulting Usa

    Ryan Romero · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 2
    I’m sorry but the only thing that will not remain in the new oilfield is the older generation that made all of this a reality. It is your generations fault we are so stuck on safety. Your generation came offshore with the intent of getting hurt for a payout. Your generation got people’s limbs cut off because those “fixes” failed and made the companies go to third party. Your generation clinging on to your old ways and trying to make a name for yourselves just to, “get it done” has been the reason for all of the things you mentioned. If you are over 60 and are still going offshore, then you never moved up out of the “hand” category. Its time to move on and let the next generation show you what we can do. If you haven’t saved your money by now then you never will. I’m sorry but you are just holding up promotions, but that is about to change.

    Robert Walter · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 1
    certainly there is some truth to that, not as much as there is in this article though.

    Tim Jones · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 2
    I don’t usually air out, but your today safety is hypocrisy at the highest. I believe in safety first, however most in the drilling industry, this is just a motto for insurance. I am blacklisted now because of the today’s safety double standard. I stopped a job offshore working for the big blue service hierarchy. The company men continued to push the boundaries without consent, i questioned the actions, and stopped the job after seeing they were not going to back off. The get it done at all cost” mentality was in full swing. Company men told me I was not going to stop the job. They continued to drill, then, but the parameters were under control. Since I was working a double shift and training a hand that had just come out, I got a call at 3am asking me what the #@%^ I was doing, cussed out. Laid-off 16 days later. This is not the only story I have from the past 5 safer year. Hands not being drug tested, because they can not find hands, until it is time to lay-off. Asking to be relieved from the job site because too many of the hands on location were too drunk or stoned to work with.Plus many more. The reality is Today’s oilfield is not safer, we use to watch each others back, now they just watch their phones and computer screens. They may not smoke pot in the open, like the past. But the eyes and actions are the same. I did go in the office, but didn’t like the lying and arrogance of the failed field hands. .And yes I did save my money, setting on my ranch thinking, do I really want to go back to work with college geniuses that tell everyone how good they are and couldn’t drill themselves out of a paper sack. As with all generations, their are good hand out their, but through the years they had the same understanding, “each day I can learn something new”.

    Chris Hart · Jan 23 · Reply · Like · 3
    Terrible comment! Sorry you have never had the good fortune to work with any good, experienced people that have been around for a long time and if you think the “next” generation is the savior of the oilfield, then you are sorely mistaken!

    Jason Andrews · Jan 24 · Reply · Like · 2
    No kidding. When I broke out in ’95 that’s how it was, to advance you had to know more than what you were hired to do. This weeds out the ass kissers and will allow the dedicated to continue earning a living in the industry we love.

    Curtis Stewart · Jan 24 · Reply · Like · 2
    Four men were burnt to death north of Midland working on a seperator last October. All had on the required FR’s and H2S monitors. Only problem was it was sweet crude so the monitors did not alarm. The crew was not doing any “hot work” only replacing Victaulic connections. Static discharge is the suspected culprit.

    The oilfield has bought into the FR manufacturer’s bullshift. Safety people want to use “systems” that in their minds will compensate for inexperienced workers. To spend the time to train workers in hazard recognition and resolution takes away from mor important activities.

    Like developing safety systems. FR is safety’s flavor of the decade. Instead of teaching proper pre-job PPE assessment the HSE weasels decide everyone should wear them.

    What does it cost? 12 sets of coveralls runs $700.00 plus. If you put your people in button up shirts and pants you are looking at $12-1500. A little dressy and you hit $2 gra

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