Tales From The Smoke Shack and beyond.

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(edited)

After a discussion with @Douglas Buckland we thought it may be interesting to try something which relates to our industry at grassroots, the forum could use some diversion from constant ego based discussion, let’s see if we can add some nostalgia to a thread.

It would be interesting to hear stories from all our OP crew mates past and present.

Please add your favorite oilfield story or experience, photos and memories.

Lets have a bit of fun for once.

See you in the smoke shack.... James

Edited by James Regan
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(edited)

I don’t mind trying to get this going, my first Derrickmans job for Santa Fe Drilling onboard Rig140 this is late 1980s. Santa Fe were a great company who fully embraced the promote from within policy, very rarely they would hire above a roughneck position. Santa Fe were merged with Global Marine and soon after GSF was engorged by Transocean. The saying at the time was “all the way with Santa Fe”

Great guys, great memories and a swift learning curve for a young man on how to go to work.

B38CCB83-17C2-46CD-BD5A-04EA37B61060.jpeg

Edited by James Regan
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I was working on the Sedco 135D back around 1985. For those of you not familiar with this rig type, it was a three-legged semi-submersible with the control room located in the center of the rig UNDER the main deck (easier to watch the draft marks on each leg).

The rig had been on floating production for a few years and we were going through her to get her ready to go back drilling as Petrobras wanted us to drill two more wells.

Anyhow, I was on deck when the PA system announced that I was needed in the control room. When I got there the Barge Engineer asked me to watch the control board for awhile (I had previous Watchstander experience on the old Staflo). As this was easy duty out of the sun, I gladly accepted.

After about half an hour I felt that the rig was strangely quiet - rigs are never quiet! I went up to the main deck and not a soul in sight! I looked over under the starboard crane and saw everyone leaning over the handrails looking down at the water. Being human, I walked over and did the same.

Lying alongside the rig was a HUGE shark (sea life seems to like the heat and vibration). This thing was at least 25’ long and probably 4’ between the eyes!

Now I knew that there were whale sharks off of Brasil, and thought this might be one. The Brasilian divers on board assured me that this type of shark ‘ate people’. I thought that they may be ‘shining me on’ so I told them that I wanted them to launch their boat and check out our production mono-buoy, to which they replied, in very colorful Portuguese, that there was no way on earth that they were getting in the water!

I have no idea what type of shark this was, but I really can’t blame the guys for not wanting to get in the water!

Working the offshore rigs you used to see some amazing sea life.

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(edited)

If only we had cell phones back then, I also saw some amazing natural beauty. While on the Ocean Liberator taking her from Congo to Ivory Coast we were somewhere near a vulcanic island near São Tomé, this island was off limits due to probable canabalism still being practiced. Anyway I stepped out of my office heading to the moon pool and did what everyone is guilty of and leaned on the hand rail for a while looking directly at the ship towing us and my left eye closely at that “island”. After some minutes I started to notice the water on the surface was acting strangely from the ship towing us some 500 meters away an arc from the ship towing us stretching 100s of meters to both port and starboard side of the rig, this is a huge area. 
The water started to bubble and shimmer, I was thinking gas etc from a Sea Vulcano and then at once from the ship to the rig the ocean just erupted with white Pygmy Dolphins hundreds of thousands jumping out of the water following the rig playing with the towing bridle and just having fun. It’s was a migration phenomenon which has been rarely documented. They appeared for about ten minutes and then as quick as they appeared they were gone. Amazing white dolphins about a foot and a half long filling the ocean. It blew my mind and I was alone who was going to believe me, but luckily the Bridge watch had seen it also as had the ship towing us, but none had a camera, one of the most amazing natural sights I have had the honor of seeing. I tell this story from time to time but most think I am exaggerating , if you have seen normal dolphin or whale migration patterns you will know these things happen, but Pygmy White Dolphins I never knew they existed.

Africa never failed to surprise me.

AD2B2884-BE42-4D05-93A1-735A071F3141.jpeg

Edited by James Regan
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We used to go whale watching while choppering back to Pointe Noire at the end of the hitch...back when you could get away with it.

Did you ever see those big rafts of reeds coming out of the Congo River and heading out to sea during the rainy season in the mountains? Occasionally they would have pigs, goats or even cattle on them! When the light was right you would see hammerhead sharks circling under these reed mats as if they knew it was only a matter of time before the reed mat disintegrated and it was dinnertime.

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2 hours ago, James Regan said:

If only we had cell phones back then, I also saw some amazing natural beauty. While on the Ocean Liberator taking her from Congo to Ivory Coast we were somewhere near a vulcanic island near São Tomé, this island was off limits due to probable canabalism still being practiced. Anyway I stepped out of my office heading to the moon pool and did what everyone is guilty of and leaned on the hand rail for a while looking directly at the ship towing us and my left eye closely at that “island”. After some minutes I started to notice the water on the surface was acting strangely from the ship towing us some 500 meters away an arc from the ship towing us stretching 100s of meters to both port and starboard side of the rig, this is a huge area. 
The water started to bubble and shimmer, I was thinking gas etc from a Sea Vulcano and then at once from the ship to the rig the ocean just erupted with white Pygmy Dolphins hundreds of thousands jumping out of the water following the rig playing with the towing bridle and just having fun. It’s was a migration phenomenon which has been rarely documented. They appeared for about ten minutes and then as quick as they appeared they were gone. Amazing white dolphins about a foot and a half long filling the ocean. It blew my mind and I was alone who was going to believe me, but luckily the Bridge watch had seen it also as had the ship towing us, but none had a camera, one of the most amazing natural sights I have had the honor of seeing. I tell this story from time to time but most think I am exaggerating , if you have seen normal dolphin or whale migration patterns you will know these things happen, but Pygmy White Dolphins I never knew they existed.

Africa never failed to surprise me.

AD2B2884-BE42-4D05-93A1-735A071F3141.jpeg

 

I saw that in the mid 2009 when I was touring the area.

It is amazing.

Have a video of it somewhere.

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(edited)

2 hours ago, Douglas Buckland said:

I was working on the Sedco 135D back around 1985. For those of you not familiar with this rig type, it was a three-legged semi-submersible with the control room located in the center of the rig UNDER the main deck (easier to watch the draft marks on each leg).

The rig had been on floating production for a few years and we were going through her to get her ready to go back drilling as Petrobras wanted us to drill two more wells.

Anyhow, I was on deck when the PA system announced that I was needed in the control room. When I got there the Barge Engineer asked me to watch the control board for awhile (I had previous Watchstander experience on the old Staflo). As this was easy duty out of the sun, I gladly accepted.

After about half an hour I felt that the rig was strangely quiet - rigs are never quiet! I went up to the main deck and not a soul in sight! I looked over under the starboard crane and saw everyone leaning over the handrails looking down at the water. Being human, I walked over and did the same.

Lying alongside the rig was a HUGE shark (sea life seems to like the heat and vibration). This thing was at least 25’ long and probably 4’ between the eyes!

Now I knew that there were whale sharks off of Brasil, and thought this might be one. The Brasilian divers on board assured me that this type of shark ‘ate people’. I thought that they may be ‘shining me on’ so I told them that I wanted them to launch their boat and check out our production mono-buoy, to which they replied, in very colorful Portuguese, that there was no way on earth that they were getting in the water!

I have no idea what type of shark this was, but I really can’t blame the guys for not wanting to get in the water!

Working the offshore rigs you used to see some amazing sea life.

 

Saw a giant hammerhead once while on a rig in the GoM. Some of the estimates of the size of the shark were between 16-19ft long!!!

 

Edited by ceo_energemsier
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Mate of mine getting run off for jogging round the rig site in Algeria, in only his red underpants.

The locals didn't approve

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Never been offshore, which is a shame because with the new rules I don't think I can even visit without doing the helicopter training in the dunk tank etc. I even invented some tech that's being deployed offshore and I don't get to watch, just hope the guys I trained do everything right. 

Lots of roughneck stories. We were drilling in Montana and there'd been a lot of push back because people were worried we were going to harm the wildlife. The first day we saw a couple of cute antelope standing there watching us from about 200 feet away. The next day there were about 10. The next day there were at least 40. By the 4th day there were so many we couldn't even count them. Of course the reason they were hanging with us was predators. No coyotes, bears or wolves or whatever else wanted to eat them wanted any part of our drilling rig or us I suppose.

The people crying about the wildlife weren't on our friends list so they never knew. I was living at an outfitter's log cabin because it beat the 60 or so miles to the nearest hotel. He didn't believe me so I took him out there. I don't know if his jaw ever recovered from being agape so long. He didn't bring a camera either since he didn't believe me. When we took the rig down they all moseyed away, like the show was over. 

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2 hours ago, Ward Smith said:

Never been offshore, which is a shame because with the new rules I don't think I can even visit without doing the helicopter training in the dunk tank etc. I even invented some tech that's being deployed offshore and I don't get to watch, just hope the guys I trained do everything right. 

Lots of roughneck stories. We were drilling in Montana and there'd been a lot of push back because people were worried we were going to harm the wildlife. The first day we saw a couple of cute antelope standing there watching us from about 200 feet away. The next day there were about 10. The next day there were at least 40. By the 4th day there were so many we couldn't even count them. Of course the reason they were hanging with us was predators. No coyotes, bears or wolves or whatever else wanted to eat them wanted any part of our drilling rig or us I suppose.

The people crying about the wildlife weren't on our friends list so they never knew. I was living at an outfitter's log cabin because it beat the 60 or so miles to the nearest hotel. He didn't believe me so I took him out there. I don't know if his jaw ever recovered from being agape so long. He didn't bring a camera either since he didn't believe me. When we took the rig down they all moseyed away, like the show was over. 

I have seen does (deer, elk) giving birth near drilling sites/well pads/ and employee housing trailers to keep them safe from predators. Wake up one morning go outside and see 3 fawns that could barely walk and they were right under the make shift staircase.

Lot of turkeys would flock around too. Lucky for them it wasnt Thanks Giving LOL.

I had heard about bears turning valves etc but didnt believe it, I knew that bears can open unlocked car doors and house doors and windows but didint believe it till i saw it on a sec cam footage that a bear was turning the valves on a water tank so it could have water!!!

At first everyone thought that it might be the work of teenagers who come by trying to pull pranks or whatever they do.

In CO , for the longest time, during one spring season, my house door bell would ring between 2-3am.

And I live out in the mountains with a gated entry , and I would check the footage from the sec cam to see who was at the gate . No one. Then I had a sec cam added to the door and saw that it was a bear that would just stroll around walk up to the door and put its paws on the door bell ring pad , I guess it enjoyed the music.

 

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(edited)

Some old pics being sent to me, by the way I’m the one with the harness on, my boss was apparently unbreakable...

Cape Town and the Regan Brothers , look out Cape Town we been at sea for 12 weeks 👊🏻👊🏻👊🏻

22F3C6AF-DCB8-49F6-AA6C-AF907A336A86.jpeg

13739D95-7667-4A52-A066-72BBD69B18B9.jpeg

Edited by James Regan
This Rig just came off contract and is about to be scrapped 😞
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15 hours ago, Douglas Buckland said:

I was working on the Sedco 135D back around 1985. For those of you not familiar with this rig type, it was a three-legged semi-submersible with the control room located in the center of the rig UNDER the main deck (easier to watch the draft marks on each leg).

The rig had been on floating production for a few years and we were going through her to get her ready to go back drilling as Petrobras wanted us to drill two more wells.

Anyhow, I was on deck when the PA system announced that I was needed in the control room. When I got there the Barge Engineer asked me to watch the control board for awhile (I had previous Watchstander experience on the old Staflo). As this was easy duty out of the sun, I gladly accepted.

After about half an hour I felt that the rig was strangely quiet - rigs are never quiet! I went up to the main deck and not a soul in sight! I looked over under the starboard crane and saw everyone leaning over the handrails looking down at the water. Being human, I walked over and did the same.

Lying alongside the rig was a HUGE shark (sea life seems to like the heat and vibration). This thing was at least 25’ long and probably 4’ between the eyes!

Now I knew that there were whale sharks off of Brasil, and thought this might be one. The Brasilian divers on board assured me that this type of shark ‘ate people’. I thought that they may be ‘shining me on’ so I told them that I wanted them to launch their boat and check out our production mono-buoy, to which they replied, in very colorful Portuguese, that there was no way on earth that they were getting in the water!

I have no idea what type of shark this was, but I really can’t blame the guys for not wanting to get in the water!

Working the offshore rigs you used to see some amazing sea life.

Did it have a lot of white or beige spots? That would probably be a whale shark. 

Image result for whale shark images

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Cool thread.  I've never worked oil, other than on the regulatory side if that counts, but have several friends that do (all oil sands now, no conventional).

I bet back in the day rigs were wild with little health and safety.  Like the times when you could smoke on a plane and pinching the flight attendants ass was considered normal.

 

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Man! I think back to some of the things we did ‘back in the day’ to get the job done. Nowadays the HSE gurus, who likely never set foot on a working rig, would be screaming for us to get run off.

 

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Off Angola years back, I was sent out to an old FPSO to kill the satellite wells via the production manifold (think about that for a second 😂). At the time I had just come off contract as a Senior Drilling Engineer on a jack-up campaign and had never even been on an FPSO. This was back in the day where you did what you had to do to get the job done and ‘thinking outside the box’ was applauded. Furthermore, I was the only engineer with a valid work visa...

This was a wild job and interesting as heck. My partner in crime was the ship’s production engineer, an older Scottish fellow who also believed in getting the job done, however you had to do it.

At this point I should add that we were under a tight political deadline as the Angolans wanted that vessel out of their waters ‘yesterday’.

Anyhow, we had successfully killed all the wells, and shut in the wellheads, tied to the port side of the ship and had moved to the wells tied to the stern. These were gas lift wells and the annuli should have been bled off long before we got to them - they had not been bled and had significant pressure still on the back sides. When we cracked the bleed-off valves to try and bleed off the pressure the Joule-Thompson effect simply froze the valves shut.

What to do?

Eventually we rigged up each annulus, one at a time, to go back through the production manifold and vent through a chicksan line which we had chained down to the deck. The vessel was a ‘steam plant’ so at 2:00 in the morning, while everyone else was asleep, we had the ship’s engineer go to ‘dead ship’ then opened up the well.

We had thought of everything but the noise! It sounded like a squadron of 747’s had fired up on deck! But we had already initiated our nefarious plan, so just let her roar until the well bled down.

The next morning, the Serbian captain, about 6’7” tall, 300 lbs of solid muscle, a flowing black beard and a striking resemblance to Blackbeard the pirate, asked what the noise was early that morning. I referred him to his production engineer...😂

We did the exact same thing with the second, and last, well tied to the stern the following morning. Blackbeard was not happy with us, but the job was done and his ship was out of Angolan waters on time.

Now, I ask you, can you imagine the paperwork and HSE ‘decisions by committee’ required to get this job done today? Granted, blowing raw gas over the decks is not for the faint hearted, but (except for the noise issue) we had done a common sense risk analysis and got the job done! 
 

Those were the days!

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3 hours ago, Enthalpic said:

Cool thread.  I've never worked oil, other than on the regulatory side if that counts, but have several friends that do (all oil sands now, no conventional).

I bet back in the day rigs were wild with little health and safety.  Like the times when you could smoke on a plane and pinching the flight attendants ass was considered normal.

 

Might have been considered normal, but pinching that nice backside could also get you a black eye! It all came down to risk vs reward!

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3 hours ago, Enthalpic said:

Cool thread.  I've never worked oil, other than on the regulatory side if that counts, but have several friends that do (all oil sands now, no conventional).

I bet back in the day rigs were wild with little health and safety.  Like the times when you could smoke on a plane and pinching the flight attendants ass was considered normal.

 

I remember flying Air France back to Houston the year they introduced the IWCF well control requirement. I had to attend Randy Smith’s school. I can’t even remember where I was flying from anymore. Anyhow, I was in jeans and a polo shirt. Everyone else in business class was in a suit.

I was sitting by the window and had just finished reading the paper and had spread it out on the aisle seat to look at later. The good looking little French stewardess had just brought my dinner (for some reason I can still recall it was a shrimp dish). As she leaned over to put it on the tray, the plane hit turbulence and the shrimp dish went right into the aisle seat. Okay, some got on me, but nothing a few napkins couldn’t sort out...and I was wearing jeans!

I thought that the poor little French girl was going to have a heart attack as she scampered back to the galley to get the stuff required to clean up the mess.

But remember, I had spread out the newspaper on that seat for further reading. The shrimp dish had landed on the newspaper. By the time the girl got back I’d folded everything into the paper, cleaned off my jeans and handed the newspaper and napkin to the girl and never thought anything of it.

When I cleared Customs in Houston, all of the stewardesses met me and gave me a bottle of champaign. When I asked why, they said that most people flying business class would have pitched a fit if this had happened to them. If I had made a scheme, Air France would have fired the stewardess!

As the old adage says, ‘It’s nice to be nice’.

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As we are on to flights and crew change this funny (to me anyway) titbit came through the fading memory.

Flying in to Luanda, Angola on Air Fronce /TAG flight (so you can imagine the humorous folks around me) we were landing in a loaded 747. Luanda has a massive runway but most of its military , the SAM missile batteries along the runway gives you that comfort factor. Anyway as we touch down the pilot is really heavy on the breaks to the point my head was being forced against the seat in front, something wasn’t cotia. I heard this bang from inside the cabin and this strange whirring noise, now I was seated fairly close to that ethnic cleansing curtain of business class and a 747 is fairly long. The whirring noise was getting louder accompanied by bangs and screams , l was in an isle and decide to have a look, as I looked I had to pull my head back quickly as this aluminum box looking object was hurtling towards me. The breaking was so strong that it had snapped the supports for the food trolley that had just been unleashed from the back of the plane. Hats off to the company who made this trolley as the wheels were top class, this trolley came hurtling past me at our landing speed like a rocket, it disappeared through economy like Lewis Hamilton and business class was just a blur then it hit first class, on a 747 there’s a little curve at the nose of the aircraft well this trolley full of leftovers and worse rode up the curve of the nose of the plane and exploded. Luckily no one got hurt but the mess in first class was something to behold. 
I am British so I have a little bit of a dark sense of humor, my instant reaction was to piss myself laughing unfortunately only I was laughing, I was very quickly chastised for my laughing but it only made me worse, I would calm down for a minute and then out of nowhere burst into tears 😭 again. This continued until I got a headache. 
On leaving the plane  I managed to see the impact zone it was bad but the best bit was all the high flyers in Armani suits covered in chicken curry and a liquid that looked like pig swill trying to clean themselves and screaming zoot Aleur to the stewardesses , I laughed again and continued this turrets type laugh for the rest of the day. Maybe I’m bad it was far funnier than dangerous to me.  
 

This one could be funnier under same circumstances 

https://www.yankodesign.com/2013/04/12/the-flying-cart/

A3247393-CCA6-4493-9C98-BB2E3E7DEDEB.jpeg

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Besides the decorative anti-aircraft guns and missiles which used to line the runway in Luanda, another interesting feature was a huge aircraft ‘graveyard’, full of old airliners, off the end of the runway.

This did not instill confidence...

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(edited)

1 hour ago, Douglas Buckland said:

Besides the decorative anti-aircraft guns and missiles which used to line the runway in Luanda, another interesting feature was a huge aircraft ‘graveyard’, full of old airliners, off the end of the runway.

This did not instill confidence...

And as for Cabinda we’ll just a war zone , it was like á Vietnam movie flying out of there, We had Kevlar shrapnel blankets in the rooms and a minefield around the camp. We were in the middle of FLEK territory who had the oilfields in the northern enclave, UNITA in the middle with Diamond and the MPLA in the south all wanting a slice , yep I’ll take a trip to Angola in 1995 , I almost bought an uzzi there but no way to get it into the UK.

We need to keep this going compile it and write a book......

Just take a look at where Cabinda is it’s actually Angola , but surrounded by others , this was not a good move by 🇦🇴 

FD0A9533-F5F0-4967-8A69-5A1D39469964.jpeg

Edited by James Regan
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I flew into Cabinda one time, got out to stretch my legs and saw all these little red flags sticking out of the ground. When I asked what they were for, i was told, “Mines”.

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Now, I will really date myself...

While working on the STAFLO (look that one up!) off of Brasil, I walked out on the spiderdeck and saw a Brasilian welder (who, funny enough kinda resembled James Regan...😂) standing on a I-beam which extended over the water, cutting off the end of the beam. The more I looked, the more I thought ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’

About the time it became apparent that he was standing outboard of the cut he was making (that is, on the piece he was cutting off), he completed his cut and the welder and the cut off piece of beam headed towards the water!

This was long before HSE became an issue. Thankfully the welder had not tied himself off on the piece of beam which joined him in the water and we fished him out.

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On 1/13/2020 at 11:25 PM, Douglas Buckland said:

Now, I will really date myself...

While working on the STAFLO (look that one up!) off of Brasil, I walked out on the spiderdeck and saw a Brasilian welder (who, funny enough kinda resembled James Regan...😂) standing on a I-beam which extended over the water, cutting off the end of the beam. The more I looked, the more I thought ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’

About the time it became apparent that he was standing outboard of the cut he was making (that is, on the piece he was cutting off), he completed his cut and the welder and the cut off piece of beam headed towards the water!

This was long before HSE became an issue. Thankfully the welder had not tied himself off on the piece of beam which joined him in the water and we fished him out.

I'm guessing he wanted to be upwind of the fumes and sparks and just didn't think it through.

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On 1/12/2020 at 9:58 PM, Douglas Buckland said:

No spots at all, just a big, big ahark!

Probably waiting for one of you to take a swim to cool off, or maybe hoping someone falls off.

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