The Search

Of everything
There is so much more than a name
There is so much more than an age
There is so much more than what you see
There is so much more beyond me

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Introduction......

It was an interesting if not amazing group of approximately 80 individuals at the barbecue last night. The majority of those attending were “professional’s” as it was the going away party for some co-workers of a mutual friend of the host and all those invited. There were “sweet thang” and I, and maybe 7 to 10 others who were not part of their working group. A need to get off my feet led me to a table occupied by a single lady whose husband was unable to attend. As our conversation went on, we found that we had more and more in common. By the end of the evening we had indeed struck a friendship and I’m sure I’ll see her again.

She is one year older than I, she loves nature, she used to live near where I was born and raised, she loves to write, she loves trees, and she is a very open and grounded person and I totally enjoyed getting to know her. She invited me to tour her home just a few minutes from where the party was being held……

In visiting with her she ask a lot of questions about me…..The reflection of the answers I gave her, made me stop to look at who this person writing these words in front of you really is. During the discussion on writing I told her about this blog I am sharing with the world. She was very curious and interested in possibly starting a blog of her own so I hope she checks this out one day. I believe it was at that moment I met myself again.

I realized how much I had missed setting down to visit with you about my participation in the search for, and sharing with you “so much more”. As we stood in her garden surrounded by the beautiful personal touches she had added to it, with a backdrop of the majestic rocky mountains glistening with golden tones in the sunset sky, I knew that it was time for a personal meeting with my mind. I drew a deep breath and felt I had found a way to introduce myself to me again…..

Having a secure handle on all of the distractions that has kept me away the past few weeks, it is time to get on with tasks at hand and that meant sitting down to clear my mind of all that and let some thoughts flow.

I've missed out on so much..... reading other's blogs, my writing, spending time in my searches, allowing me to be me, really looking at my flowers instead of working in the yard, taking time to appreciate my life and that which surrounds me.

Where might my new friend lead me? She has already given me that break I needed. God brings people together for a reason and I can hardly wait to find out the reason behind our meeting……

Do you suppose I’m talking about the lady I met at the party last night or myself? I’m not sure yet either but stick around and we’ll figure it out together.

Meeting My Mind

It’s always a surprise to me when I realize I need some time away from myself to take care of the rest of the world, and that’s what’s been going on for the past few weeks since I last posted.So many issues had worked themselves into my life, I have been spending hours taking care of those and in order to absorb them all, I had to walk away from me for a while. The lists of busy things have been checked off and, I’ve handled all that was needed to satisfy their requirements then last night I met me again.

This “me” I reconnected with was a pleasant meeting…… I’m still running about par for the course and none the worse for wear, though still a bit overwhelmed with all that goes on in the basics of life. I look at those with great admiration who are able to handle it all, or those who choose to stay detached and keep their lives simple. I have always wished I were that way.

Alas, the list of things that needed my attention had to be taken care of or I would never be able to meet me again. The list doesn’t seem like much when I write it down but each of the following has multi facets to it requiring a complete jumbled mess in my mind that had to be straightened out before I could continue with life.

The Gulf oil spill was and is taking up a lot of my time. I’ve been reading “the oil drum” web site as often as possible as it’s a great place to sort out fact from fiction. There are so many levels to that study alone, industry impact, political, the technological aspects of the gusher itself, the problems with working 5,000 ft. under the sea, the clean up efforts and the potential damage it will do to the coast line. Not to mention the theories on why it happened and what could happen with a worst case scenario. Though I now have a better idea of all that, it remains a priority with me but it is easier to come to grips with the more I understand it.

The Business…..With the kids taking turns for vacation time, sweet thang and I have been making ourselves available to help out when needed so they can have some time away from the daily grind…. I’ve not been needed much but regardless my mind is always on standby.

Plans for a year from now….. We will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in June of 2011. The kids have been after us to decide how we want to acknowledge this event. We’ve were told that if we choose to invite others and have it at a facility, we need to reserve a place now because of it being on a Saturday and a very popular date for weddings. All of that plus looking at many other options, deciding which way we wanted to go, looking at a number of locations, choosing a place and booking it. That done, started a chain of swirling decisions in my mind as far as guests list, centerpieces, food choices, decorations, etc. etc. etc….. and a book full of things that will need done before now and then.

Also, less than a year away in March of 2011 is a trip that sweet thang and I have already planned for just ourselves. This has called for even more planning and lists of things to get done before then.

A Reunion….. I already have two notebooks full of lists going for both of those events then I got a call from an old classmate needing help and ideas for my 50th class reunion, so notebook #3 was started with ideas & requirements on how to entertain 25 senior citizens who are making an effort to celebrate being out of high school for 50 years. This will be fun to plan, but no easy task….

Others……In the midst of all the above, I have been worried about some particular friends…. One who may be facing a return of her cancer and one whose husband just lost his job and our friends who live in the gulf and are dealing with a ton of stress regarding the oil spill.

Knowing that this summer will speed by and fall will be arriving quickly which brings the holidays, then before we know it 2011 will have arrived! That has thrown us into high gear trying to get as many basic details taken care of now.

Then last night we were invited to a back yard barbecue. We finally laid all the above aside for a few hours and enjoyed an evening out. I took time to allow myself a reintroduction to myself and a few moments to reflect on where everything stands now and how I can proceed with life…….. It was an interesting little break in the action…… Stay tuned........

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Individuals

In memorandum to the eleven workers killed on the transocean BP deep horizon rig:

Remembering those lost on Deepwater Horizon

You can read their personal stories at this site:

Jason Anderson

Aaron Dale Burkeen

Donald Clark

Stephen Curtis

Roy Wyatt Kemp

Karl Kleppinger

Gordon Jones (M-I SWACO)

Blair Manuel (M-I SWACO)

Dewey Revette

Shane Roshto

Adam Weise

My thoughts go this morning to a guy we became very good friends with back in the 60’s, now passed. I will call him “TO”….. He was an elderly gentleman who had started his oilfield career in Oklahoma in the early boom days when there were wooden sidewalks in town and the streets were filled with the remnants of the oil activity around them. They mostly lived in tents out on the locations of the drilling sites. He had been involved in many of the early and frequent gushers on land, very dangerous situations when the recovery of oil was still in it’s baby stages. His wife was a wonderful lady and a fantastic cook, her cream, lemon and berry pies were the best in the county. She prepared and packed his meals before he left for whatever shift he was working. This was either “daylight tour” – “morning tour” – or “evening tour”, changing as the need arose.

TO made the comment to me one time that he always ate his pie first as soon as he got to location because he never knew if he’d make it through the day or night to have it as dessert after his meal and he wasn’t about to miss it.

Funny, but true….. TO was for sure one of a kind.


Sunday July 20th, 1981, 6:00 a.m. the ringing phone startled us awake. The man on the other end of the receiver said “there has been an accident….the whole crew (including your son) is being transported as I speak, on a flight for life helicopter to” …… through my muffled sobs I didn’t hear anything else as I handed the phone to my husband. As I tried to get out of bed and stand up, my legs begin to crumple beneath me and I had to grab the edge of the dresser to stay on my feet. Dressing as quickly as possible we rushed to the car and started the 2 hour drive ahead to get us to the receiving hospital. All we knew was that he was alive and was in the ICU burn unit. Communications were confused and they had given us the wrong name and location of the hospital, so time stretched before us as we got to the right place where he lay. The trip from our home to there was agonizingly slow as we searched for him and was directed from hospital to hospital.

When we finally arrived and explained that we were his parents they pointed the way to his room. Each room had large windows so the medical personnel could keep an eye on the patients… we walked past his room the first time because we didn’t recognize the young man lying in the bed… We did not recognize our son until I stopped to look in his eyes.

His face swollen to the size of a large inflated balloon was a mass of red and black and white. The red was blood, the black was burned flesh, and the white was open wounds seeping fluid. Between the IV lines attached to him, and the oxygen tubes, I leaned over to kiss him on the forehead and my heart ached because I could not hold him in my arms….. My baby boy lay close to death and I couldn’t even touch him.

As he lifted his hand, fluids ran in a steady stream from his fingers back to the piles of gauze lying beneath him. Those were the beginning hours of 10 days in ICU and many agonizing months of recuperation…

It had all started following his freshman year in college….. He had gotten a job on a rig, the perfect summer job that would provide the hands on experience he needed as he pursued his petroleum engineer degree. The “total” education required to teach him the practical side of his studies.. As is standard practice, the driller had stopped by their various homes that morning to collect his crew of 4 others and head out to the rig which in this case was located about 40 miles from our house. They had left our house about 4:00 a.m. Our son was up, dressed and ready when the driller drove in the driveway.

As was popular in those days and in an effort to reduce the cost of travel, the driller had outfitted his old suburban with a propane tank behind the back seats… On the way to location that morning, he had stopped off at a producing lease to get some fuel. As he filled the enclosed tank, one of the hands who was sleeping next to our son in the 2nd seat awoke, and in his sleepy daze, lit a cigarette. As he did, the spark overtook the fumes inside of the vehicle and there was an instant explosion. Our son remembers only seeing flashes of fire surrounding him. The doors flew open as the men escaped, as soon as he was out of the vehicle, he run away into the field to the only safety away from the fire he could see ahead. Eventually the driller was able to catch him, threw him to the ground where he was rolled in the dirt until the flames were extinguished. At that time the driller (who was not in the vehicle at the time of the explosion and therefore the only one not injured) got all of the burned crew loaded back in the vehicle and drove them to the nearest hospital. Thank God only the inside of the vehicle had burned and it was still in operating condition. It was a 25 mile drive to where they could get help. On the way some of the men were screaming, some were crying, one was unconscious…and our son remembers hearing his own groans expressing the horrendous pain….

In visiting with one of the nurses at that hospital later, she said it had started out as a quite, beautiful summer morning and shortly after she came on duty she was in the hall way leading from the main entrance to emergency. She heard some yelling, looked up and here were 4 monster looking men coming in the doors ….some barely able to walk, dead flesh hanging from each of them, and all of them screaming that there was another one unconscious out in the car….. There was a flurry of action as everyone was grabbing gurneys, getting the men as comfortable as possible, administering oxygen and pain medications to them and the immediate help they needed. As doctors and nurses did what they could to stabilize their patients, arrangements were made for flight for life in order to transport them to another hospital where they could receive the specialized care they needed at the largest equipped burn unit in our state. They were in flight when we got the call that morning.

Following our initial shock the situation was assessed and we started dealing day to day with the after effects of 3rd degree burns over 30% of our beloved son’s body. I stayed with him that night and the next afternoon I remember as he slipped in and out of consciousness he came to long enough to request a drink of water. I reached for the cup on the bedside table, and the nurse that was in the room at the time yelled at me…. She grabbed my hand, said “NO! He MUST learn to use those hands, he can pick up the glass himself”. The tears ran down all of our faces as he struggled to reach for it, pick up the glass of water, bring it to his lips, suck through the straw, and swallow the refreshing liquid it held. At the time I thought she was the cruelest person on earth, and it was all I could to to restrain myself……but I soon learned what she was trying to teach us. Later she apologized to me for sounding so harsh, but she knew what she was doing and it was a necessary step in his recovery.

The morning routines started with my son’s daily soaking bath where he was handed a mirror and taught to hold and use the large tweezers to pull the dead skin from his body….. following that, medications were applied to help with pain control and healing, and the therapist arrived to work with him on the stretching exercises for his hands, necessary to keep the new skin pliable. It was a daily routine as his wounds healed and he was eventually moved to a regular room, then home.

Home brought it’s own challenges as he learned to deal with the shocked looks on his friends faces as they came to visit him for the first time, and the challenge of being able to sleep through the night without reliving the trauma of the flash fire. It brought our first visit to the vehicle where we viewed his beautiful hair that had melted and matted to the inside head covering on the inside roof of the vehicle. The months passed, he did not return to the rigs that summer but was able to return to college in the fall. Transferring to a larger, out of state college the next year, he returned and worked on the drilling rigs over semester breaks and the next summer. After college and two years following the receipt of his degree he was hired as an engineer working on off shore rigs in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Indonesia for two more years. He continues this day working in the industry and running our business. We love having he and his family close to us again!

The boy who lit the cigarette and was burned the worst, also continues working on the rigs and is one of the best tool pushers we have around in the area and we see him often as he brings work into our shop on a regular basis. One of the other guys developed a bad drinking problem and lost his family through divorce, and has not been heard of in a long time, another guy went into a different career, and the driller died a few years later from a heart attack.

The accident they were in could have been prevented. Do we hold resentment against the man and the industry that caused our son’s suffering and almost cost him his life? I can only say there were years when both were at the surface, but eventually we let it go and realized it was yet another incident in our world’s quest for a necessary evil.

I do not use the word evil lightly…. Along with the bad, it has been very good to us, it has taught us much. The biggest lesson was that nothing worth having is easy. Along with knowing that propane tanks should not be hauled inside vehicles, we know the importance of following the rules (already in place in the industry) to constantly monitor processes, putting safety first for the individuals involved, and how ongoing technology will improve the methods of protection. There is still so much more for everyone to learn…..

Through our son’s suffering and through the lives lost of many others over the years to bring us this product, we know that we have a choice of learning about and appreciating and improving what we have, and/or stopping the quest completely… It is up to us.

This has been a difficult post….. bringing up painful memories is never easy but I felt it was necessary to make you stop and think about the people who are directly involved. Each one of the hundreds of thousands oil field workers for the drilling companies, production companies and support companies has their own story and each one is unique. Our son was left with a few scars inside and out, and no longer works on the rigs directly but instead repairs and develops equipment needed to keep rigs running safely. He takes his work seriously. Today he is today a healthy, happy husband, father of two beautiful children and a loving son who proudly calls himself “oilfield trash”, 3 generations of it.

In memory of the eleven men who died in the gulf spill accident, and their families I say thank you to them and I know there is so much more to what they did for us.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Mess

Please start by reading "my oil history" 4 articles below, as an introduction to this series.

Picture was taken from BP website '© BP p.l.c.

Remember I said in the “Love and Loss” post that in no way was I defending anyone associated with this disaster? I’m not, I’m as much for protecting our planet as anyone but to help you understand what happened, I am going to reprint a very brief summary of what an engineer wrote on a technical site to a novice to the industry. The author is an oilfield worker with a great deal of experience behind him. It is simply his assessment and in no way tells the whole story. I am posting it because it may help you understand how much the average “joe” does not know about all this and how very complicated the process of drilling for oil is.


He writes this by telling me that above all else this goes along with a very BIG IF:

IF we have a accurate picture of how the incident began then this would be a partial explanation: they had run production casing from total depth back up to the well head/BOP. Cement was pumped down the drill pipe to the bottom of this casing and forced back up between the casing and the rock. The reason for this cement job is to isolate the oil reservoir. This cement seal would be the only barrier preventing the well from “coming in “ (flowing oil/NG up the casing). Prior to pumping the cement the weight of the drilling mud kept the reservoir from flowing up. The backpressure stopping the flow was a result of an 18,000’ column of heavy drilling mud.

Following regulations BP was required for safety reason to set a series of cement plugs in the production casing to ensure the reservoir would not leak to the surface until they were ready to produce the well. To make the eventual re-entry of the well easier BP “displaced” the riser (that 20” tube that connected the well head/BOP to the drilling rig on the surface of the GOM) with seawater and thus removing the heavy drill mud from the well. But the did this before setting the top cement plug which would have kept any oil/NG from flowing up should the casing or cement fail. This is why testing the validity of the cement job was extremely critical: the column of seawater could not produce a sufficient backpressure to prevent the oil/NG from rushing to the surface. If the cement didn’t hold there was a 100% possibility of the well coming in.

There is a standard procedure for determining if a well is flowing. The same protocol is followed for a cased hole as well when drilling. I don’t know for a fact but I wouldn’t be surprised if this procedure had been done more than 100 times as this well was being drilled. The mud pumps on the rig push drilling mud down the drill pipe, which then returns to the surface between the drill pipe and the casing or open hole. Though this will sound simplistic this is the primary method to tell if a well is kicking (flowing): you shut the mud pumps off. For oil/NG to flow to the surface it has to push the mud out of the hole ahead of it. If you turn the pumps off and the mud stops flowing out you have a static well. If the mud continues flowing out the return line the well is coming in and a blow out is on the way unless you stop this flow. In addition to visually seeing the mud flowing out, there are various mud tanks that have the mud flow volume measured automatically.

Again, IF we have the correct story, the mud returns were not being monitored. We do not know why. Why the cement failed is a separate issue from not monitoring the mud returns. Had they seen the mud flowing they could have shut the well in (closed all the return valves on the rig). The oil/NG might have still flowed all the way up but it would have not escaped to the drill floor and exploded. Killing a shut in well is a standard procedure and practiced often. Once the well was shut in they could have replaced the light seawater with heavy drilling mud via the drill pipe and stopped the flow of oil/NG from the reservoir. But they did not become aware of the well coming in until it as too late.


All of this to inform you that there were a lot of problems that the American public was not aware of.

I believe the fault lies in the fact that even though the oil industry has made great strides with the technology to drill safer, deeper, faster and cleaner, they have made very few improvements in designing equipment that will work in the worst of situations to handle problems such as we’re seeing now. Add in human error and you have this.

Desperation brings new innovations. In the post below I stated a few good things that could come from this tragedy. One of those would be how to prevent something like this from happening again.

However; regardless of how many new regulations are put in place, regardless of how much new technology and equipment is developed, you still have “man” in charge……

And as long as the population depends on oil & gas to operate our world we’re going to have situations like this. Everyone must accept part of the blame because we use the product and cry for more, then complain if it’s dirty when we spill it.

Update as of 6/01/10, notation from "the oil drum"........

"All of these operations, including the cutting of the riser, are complex, involve risks and uncertainties, and have to be carried out by ROVs at 5,000 feet under water. Systems such as the LMRP containment cap have never before been deployed at these depths and conditions, and their efficiency and ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured. It is currently anticipated that attachment of the LMRP cap will be attempted later this week; however, operational delays could impact anticipated timeframes.
Preparations to use the Discoverer Enterprise to deploy the LMRP cap and the intended severing of the damaged riser mean that the riser insertion tube tool, previously deployed, will not be reinserted into the main leak at the end of the riser."



Pictures and figures taken from the BP website.....'© BP p.l.c.

Response in Numbers

22,000 personnel deployed
1,600 vessels on site
3.7 million feet of boom deployed
321,000 barrels of oil-related water mix recovered
17 staging areas set-up to protect shoreline
30,000 claims filed, 15,000 already paid

From day of the explosion of the BP transocean rig, when the “news” was reporting President Obama should have been out there at that moment, to one of the latest ideas of using a nuke to blow it all up, there have been hundreds of very stupid statements made. Some innocently due to simply not knowing any different, to some very rude and hateful comments made that has done no one any good at all.

First of all it took at a minimum of 3 days to handle the initial explosion with fire and emergency rescue efforts. When a disaster happens on a drilling rig, ONLY experienced professional industry personnel are allowed near it, and that is totally for safety sake. There is no way anyone NOT associated with BP or the rescue folks could be allowed on site. The main concern was to get a count on those killed and those still alive… this included transporting 126 off of the rig and out of the water as fast as possible, including those injured, not easily done when forced to use boats and helicopters in getting all of them back to land. The next large concern was getting the fire out and assessing the damage…. Time had to be taken to find out what they were dealing with, and preventing further danger to the people involved who had to go a mile under to assess the situation after the remnants of the rig sank. With the ensuing pressure coming from the free flowing gusher, this was not as easy as it sounds. It would be similar to placing a cap on a volcano. Then came the task of many practical matters such as allowing structures to settle, and lowering lights so they could even see what to do first. It is black and dark one mile under the surface of the water. Oil and natural gas is spewing outward and upward at alarming pressures.

If you don’t know by now, the same day the accident happened, our government was on the job in Washington DC, gathering information and getting a plan in place to help with what and where it could.

Why couldn’t it just be turned off or capped immediately? To put this in as simple of terms as possible, you cannot imagine the pressure they are dealing with, not to mention currents, twisted equipment and pipes laying on top of each other and the areas they needed access to. It has taken weeks to even get to the point where they could begin to actually think about what “could” be done to stop the flow.

Why did it happen? There are a few various theory’s and the final answer probably will not be found for years….. There is no doubt it was a combination of human error, and equipment failure. I will not question it for now……

In our “instant satisfaction, all for me society” it is understandable that we want answers and we want them now and we want this fixed immediately! Well, I really am sorry but it’s not going to happen that way.

There have been suggestions of sinking a sub or battleship on top of the mess to stop it, there have been suggestions of shooting fishing weights or bb’s down the hole to compress it, and one of the most ridiculous was to blow it up with a nuclear bomb…. Also to use a giant screw, and the best one yet, filling it full of oil eating worms…. Oh yes, and calling out the entire Navy that first week. Can’t you see it now with thousands of ships out there running into each other, every one of 10,000 people not knowing what each other is doing? It would have been only another disaster in the making……

Ignoring the suggestions they know will NOT work, there are hundreds trying to come up with ideas that WILL work. Trust is hard to come by but oilfield people have the best chance with even a slight possibility of getting the answers, and they are working day and night to come up with a way. That is not to say there is not other intelligent people working on it, great minds from all corners of the world are trying to figure it out.

They know for sure the probably only and for sure the best way to stop this is by drilling a relief well…. That IS going to take time, (approximately two months). In the meantime, attempt after attempt using various, practical ideas are being tried, none of them with any guarantee. Each of us set by helplessly wishing it would just stop. They know that with every passing moment millions of gallons more of oil is escaping to ruin our lands and no one wants it stopped worse than those who are directly involved and have to accept the blame. With each failure the public is becoming more and more restless, spewing more and more hatred, and only further damaging the efforts thru wasting time criticizing while not having any better ideas of there own, and those who do not understand the complexities of it or respecting the ones who are trying to solve the problem.

One rumor that needs to stop being repeated, No BP is not going to produce this well just to make money from it. This well is gone, done and over with, end of story. In years to come the area, zones and the central location may produce a controllable well, but it won’t be this one, so if you think they’re only trying to capture the spewing oil or gas you are totally misinformed. If they CAN capture enough oil to realize a profit from, they will have enough debt for clean up operations there won’t be any going into any executive’s pocket.

Being the forever optimist, (even on bad days) I am choosing to find some good things about this whole episode.

Finally, the American public will learn some things about what allows their lifestyle. It has always been a contention of mine that very few people have ever taken time to learn about the oil industry from the time the first Drake well was drilled to how it’s grown in technology over the past 141 years. The very industry that provides the life style we’ve become accustomed to…..warmth, shelter, water, transportation, and the hundreds of items associated with those necessities. From plastics to lubricants, and from clothes to tires, we have what we need and want due to the efforts of the oil industry. This cannot come to an end until we find a different method of providing those things from a different source.

This may be what will at last bring us an answer to that. We have already developed some methods thru solar, wind, biofuels, etc…. but that is not enough and they are not the whole answer. Hopefully the great minds of the world will find something sooner rather than later….

This could be the answer to “peak oil”… Since it’s been stated by many more apt than I, we are running out. Is there a possibility that they have tapped into a source that will provide enough of it so we won’t have to worry about running out in the next few critical years until we find a better solution? Probably not but it's a nice thought.

I read a statistic the other day that said the amount of oil gushing from this well is only 3% of what the United States uses in one day.

New technology could be discovered as a result of this accident. Some processes that have never been tried before are being completed. Already they are working with applications that are new at these depths…..

Tighter regulations are already being put into place. If you’re unsure of some of the regulations an oil field company or related company must fail, just ask….. It’s nearly impossible to get a permit or contract now, after this it will take more than any of us and only a select few in the industry has the resources to provide.

An appreciation of our amazing earth must be taken into account and give us hope we all need right now. I can take you to places where in the early days and of times not that long ago where oil was spilled and the land was blemished and you would not know unless I told you that an oil well or rig was ever there. Our earth has an ability to heal itself that is beyond our understanding.

I hope this series of posts will give a little hope to some of you who are terribly upset right now and full of fear over how this is being handled. It is very sad and it’s a horrible disaster and black mark against the oil industry….but should not be taken as a whole. There are many good companies and good people who do everything the way they’re supposed to in order to give us what we as a nation have asked for. Try not to blame all of us for the results of one. I ask only that the on going efforts to correct this disaster are recognized and that no further lives will be ruined because of it.

I will continue to write about my association with and admiration of the oil industry as thoughts fill my mind or as new information becomes available…. Both from history and the current situation.