Friday, May 12, 2006

My Job

This post is purely self pity and I apologize right now. I haven't posted here or at the other sites I visit much in the last week because I have reached one of those points in life where you feel you have just been beat down to the point that you have no energy left.

I am an Operator for an Independent Oil Company. I have worked in oil for over 30 years, starting as idiot, and moving though Rig Operator, Field Supervisor. Operations Manager (till the new owners bankrupted the company), then to a different company as a Site Operator.

The company I started with, Manley Oil Company in 1979 as a job till I figured out what I wanted to do. It was a family run business going into the 4th generation. The rules were simple. Treat your employees well, pay your debts, and prepare for the worst.

Oil, historically, has been a cyclical business. Bust periods, followed by short Booms. There were times where there weren't enough dollars coming in, even though production hadn't changed, that payroll couldn't be met. That goes back to the Manley rules. You kept your employees because in time things will turn, and you paid your debts to your customers, because it's their money and you took on the responsibility. The prepare for the worse was covered by a massive "War Chest". The Manley's set aside a large amount of monies during the good times, invested, but liquid to cover the busts.

All the Manley's passed on, the last way to young at 42, and we were bought by a small "investment" company. They listened to overly paid consultants rather than the people who had worked the field for decades and in less than 4 years managed to destroy a 116 year old company, thirty years of those were shared with me so to watch it go under was like a death in the family.

Shifting money to other parts of the company, overpayment of know-nothing consultants, and insisting the inadequate equipment recommended could be made to work, somehow, on top of record LOW OIL PRICES dried up all assets and killed us.

Which brings me to the reason for my malaise.

The company I now work for, is a little bigger and pays better. The problem is that after three years I am seeing the same pattern that wiped out my last company. Maintenance has be deferred for years, basic regulation requirements have been fudged, and even when the price of oil was at $60/bbl. we were told there wasn't money to buy needed minor equipment.

Two months ago the sh*t hit the fan and we had an injection well go bad. You may have heard it on the news "The Blob That Ate L.A.". That was my company. "deferred maintenance" had caught up to us and we started pumping water and mud up in the middle of a street in downtown Los Angeles.

We haven't produced a drop of oil from my site since, and the workover crew (@ about $18K/day x 6 days/week) don't know if they can fix the problem.

Moral sucks. Of the 6 guys that work at my site, the new foreman is struggling to deal with the problem, the guy who got passed over for foreman is pissed and looking for a new job, the guy who's in his 70's is going to retire in June, the guy who had a new job 6 months ago and was convinced to stay is now wondering why, I'm working with a bunch of dissatified people, and the guy under me is an ass with no experience and argues about every step of every project.

I actually love working in the industry, I enjoy fixing things and making them work the way they are suppose to. But losing my old company and then watching this one rapidly disintegrate has worn me to a nub. I am looking to make a big change in my life. I need to go to a company that wants to do things right and I feel this is my chance to get the heck out of Kalifornia. I've had it with the PC crap, the taxes and living in what is becoming more and more a Socialist over-regulated society.

I want to live in the land of the free, and with my business Texas looks like the place to go. I have started perusing the industry sites for an Operator's position around Dallas (I'm a little leery of the Gulf coast and hurricanes). If anyone knows someone in the oil biz, I'm a dedicated worker with 2 sick days in the last 5 years and I usually have to be told to take my vacation or lose it.

I fell better getting this down, but I gotta go back to work tomorrow.


GUYK said...

I was raised in the Carter County Oklahoma oil patch but left to join the USAF in 1960 and never really returned to it although I did roughneck some while I home on leave at various times.

Texas may be the place to try. I don't know. I do know that my relatives in Oklahoma tell me that it is tough to get hands for the pulling one wants that kind of back breaking work anymore but the Mexicans and I suspect if there ever was another drilling boom roughnecks would be hard to find.

My idea of retirement was a nice quiet pumping job ( lease operator) somewhere but those jobs were few and far in between when I retired the first time in 1983..the boom had busted and men who had been production foremen were pumping and the workover rigs were manned by ex pumpers who had no choice but to take whatever jobs in the patch they could find.

If I was a young man and wanted to stay in the oil production business I think I would take a hard look at the shale production In Colorado as well as up in Canada. Looks like it might be the oil business of the future. Some reports allow there are over two trillions of oil available for recovery in the oil bearing shale and sand that is just under the surface and is mostly strip mined. Sound interesting...

SoCalOilMan said...

I've looked at Colorado and Canada, they are suppose to be begging for anyone with any experience. The only problem I have with going there is that I'm 6'3" and 140 pounds of southern California boy, and I'm freezing when it gets down to 50 degrees. The idea of highs in the 10's makes me wonder if I could survive even a year there.

GUYK said...

Yeah, I know what you mean about the cold. I was 6'2" and 220 pounds when I hit Great Falls Montana in the middle of January at -43F degress. That is 43 below zero and 75 degrees below freezing. But we soon got used to it although I don't think my old aching bones could take it now.

You might check out the Gulf coast. I expect to see some more drilling there before long. The price of crude is to the point now that the enviro-nuts are gonna be overruled. The geologists allow that there is a lot of recoverable crude laying off the west coast of Florida about a 100 miles. I would like to see an oil boom here.