Before we begin I’d like to say that this is an incomplete account of life as an oilfield worker. Some of you may be saying “Well then WTF Cannibal? Why would you even make a post if it’s incomplete?” I make this post, not as an exposé to reveal every detail of oilfield life, but as a testament to how vast and varied the different people and jobs in the oilfield are. So with out further ado, let’s begin.
I work in the Bakken oil field in the US, for those of you who don’t know where that is, let me show you.
I don’t know if you know… but it’s kind of a big deal. Also, if you’ve ever wondered what it looks like from space, here you go.
There are literally hundreds of different jobs to be done in the oilfield. From drilling, to fracing, to work over rigs, to tool pushing, to water hauling, to sand hauling, to port-a-potty service to…. anything. Imagine that the entire downtown/industrial sector of your town/city has been ripped off of it’s foundations, slapped on about a million trailers and is constantly being moved from one place to another. Also, for as many jobs as there are to be done, there are just as many companies providing those services. I’ll be honest, trying to explain the Bakken oilfield to normal people is quite possibly one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to explain.
At any rate, I work for a specific oilfield service company, in the interest of anonymity and copyright laws (sounds legit right?) we’ll just call this company…. Squaleegerton. Now more specifically, I’m an electronics technician for Squaleegerton. You may ask “What does an electronics technician (we’ll just call it etech from now on k?) do for squaleegerton?” Allow me to dazzle you with the mysterious wonders of eteching. We fix cables….. yep. Well, not SOULY fix cables, we also deal with the proprietary software to operate the equipment, troubleshoot sensors and all sorts of wire related things like that. Granted, I can’t go too far into any specifics (patents, laws and the like…. you understand.) concerning the job, so I won’t. This post wasn’t about what I do for a living, it’s about life as an oilfield worker. Now with so many different jobs going on all around at the same time, Keep in mind that I work on frac (hydraulic fracturing) sites. Some fo you may disagree with what I do for a living. Some of you may think that I’m some mother earth raping barbarian, and you’re completely within your rights to think that. In fact, I’m not going to sit here and go into the myriad of ways oil is used in everyday life (a post for another day). I’ll just let you hold on to that little nugget of hate and move on.
So we’ve already established that there are thousands upon thousands of people here working here, trying to make a living. The town that I’m based out of… isn’t built for this many people…. at ALL! Granted, the local population has been immeasurably kind and accommodating to all of us workers. that being said, nerves get strained all too often dealing with so many people being here. Wanna go to Walmart? nope, parking lot looks like a playground for student drivers, blind people and a large truck stop all in one. Then sprinkle in that people lose their damn mind when they’re in large numbers and BAM! deathtrap. Granted, I brave the hordes of Walmart on occasion to get supplies and other treats (like snack cakes…. mmmmmm snack cakes.) but I do so with grace and not this look on my face the entire time.
I, like so many others, live in a mancamp. Imagine living in a college dorm, made of mobile homes, in a mostly frozen tundra, full of dudes. Granted, TECHNICALLY there are a FEW women, but they are extremely few and far between. Mostly… dudes, big, dirty, socially inappropriate, dudes. Notice I didn’t say all. I say that because there are a few jobs (etech, engineer, lab techs) that’s aren’t generally filled with the “typical” oilfield worker. My room in said mancamp contains a bed (queen sized because I’m a VIP fancy pants), tiny work desk, minuscule closet (most likely purchased from IKEA), carpet, a mini fridge (again, because I’m a fancy pants VIP), microwave (VIP) and 24 inch tv bolted WAY up on the wall across the room. I also have my own attached bathroom (VIP) with a toilet, sink, laughably small medicine cabinet, and small corner shower stall… That’s it. My entire life is contained in a 12×12 box and 4×6 bathroom. You may have noticed that I put a “VIP” by a few things. That’s because I am fortunate enough to have a VIP room. When I first got here I didn’t have a VIP room, the normal rooms have a twin bed, tiny desk (like 1.5×2.5 foot tabletop bolted to the wall), tv and sink. Now granted, each room has it’s own A/C/heat unit, but let’s move on. If you don’t have a VIP room, you have to share a bathroom with another person because they are all Lack and Jill style In said bathroom is a toilet and small shower, that’s it. And you can forget about setting up show in a shared shower with a complete stranger. Most people never really meet their bathroom buddy, so you have to keep all your shower bits in your bedroom as not to have horrible and unmentionable things happen to it all (I assume). Now I am also fortunate enough to be in a mancamp that is all indoors. That’s right, many mancamps are separate buildings all squished close by. But seeing as how we’re in North Dakota, the winters here SUCK!!! Like -20’s in the norm suck. So imagine you have to get all dressed up in warm gear just to go eat, or do laundry, or go to the game room (that’s always suspiciously empty) or anything except sit in your room and stare at the wall. They do provide cable tv and internet, but the internet is always slow since most of the lonely guys here are on the web……. buying candles.
Going back to my indoor mancamp, it’s nice because the facility provides tons of washers and dryers for you to do your laundry for free, they have a workout room, sauna, a massive mess hall and a small convenience store. I’d have to say that I’m probably in the best mancamp in town… I got VERY lucky working for Squaleegerton. So as I mentioned before, imagine living in a college dorm made of mobile homes in the middle of nowhere.
There is tons more about living and working in the oilfield that I plan on writing about (unless you hate it, if so, let me know). I also apologize if this post seems a bit scattered and crap, I’m about to go on days off and I’m just ready to leave this place for a week (another perk of oilfied work, work 2 weeks straight, get a full week off). I hope to cover other oilfield topics such as driving, working, the people, the crazy stuff you see and many others. If you have any suggestions or want to know about something specific, drop me a line and I’ll try to get to it.
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