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Control your World

Miss K at work

Being back in the heart of the oil field boom has afforded some opportunities for those that watch more than they talk.  Miss K and I have found it interesting to observe how our gate guard ‘neighbors’ do business.  We have some neighbors directly across the fence and  several more right down the way.  The other neighbors are not GGS contractors.

Our neighbors across the fence recently departed for points North and were replaced by a nice couple from San Antone — a good improvement over what was there previously.

Being as how we have had very little direct contact with other gate guards up to this point, we  got into our own groove and I am finding out just now that some of the things we do are a skoosh different from the norm.

If you are on a 24/7 gate does that not mean the gate operates around the clock?  The answer is maybe,  from what I have observed.  Our recently gone-north neighbors seemed to think it was OK to close the gate at dark  (per landowner request) and call it a day.  The vehicle horns during the night to gain access sure did interrupt our sleep– sometimes it was 15 minutes before somebody come dragging ass out of that RV and it did not seem to bother them in the least.  Sometimes it was Border Patrol chompin’ at the bit to get in and sometimes it was the Security Patrol.  Now, I am hearing the folks down the way close and lock their gate at night and will not come out to open up after 9pm.  At least that is what the Border Patrol guy said the other night when he came through our gate. He was asking Miss K if there was a way to access that other ranch through our gate since those folks had it locked up tight.  Christ on a Cracker!   I just don’t get it.

Maybe my understanding of the expectations of an oil field gate guard’s duties  are different from the usual and customary.   Way back in the days of our first gate, I asked the EOG Superintendent just what he wanted us to do.  He did not hesitate in replying ‘ You control everything in your sight and have reasonable knowledge of what is happening on the rest of the property.’  Well, alrighty then.   We can do that.   If somebody runs over our gate, we know who did it and when and report it to the Company Man.  We know who the Company Man is at each location and which shift they work.  We watch every vehicle in and out and if somebody is dragging something or leaking something or rolling on a flat tire, they know about it before they get out of our sight.  If the contractor putting the tank farm in pulls up and asks if the backhoe he ordered is here yet, we can tell him.  If one of the oil company reps wants to see the log sheets they are paying us to fill out, they get them on the spot.  I don’t have to worry about spiffing them up for inspection.

Loaded sand trucks glow in the night...

Let me throw out a couple of examples here……….

We just finished up a frac on 2 side by side holes here and they had a large crew.  I counted over 30 semi trailers of just frac equipment when they rigged down and left.   A crew operating on a large scale like that is going to use tons of sand  — and they did.  We had as many as 25 pneumatic tanks staged up a time waiting to unload.   There was not room to stage all these sand trucks on the pad so they parked and waited on a pipeline right of way about 1/2 mile from the pad– some of them routinely sat for 12-18 hrs waiting to be called to unload.  Usually with an operation this size, the sand contractor will send a company rep out in a pick up truck to coordinate the truck staging.  Miss K and I call him the ‘sand boss’  — I have no idea if that is the correct term or not.

I spent years in the trucking business and I know dealing with truck drivers is like trying to herd cats — generally unsuccessful and always frustrating.  So I throw it on the Sand Boss ’cause that is what he is getting paid to do.   The first morning he showed up –  I gave him his marching orders; no pussyfooting around and no asking permission:

  • Observe the posted speed limit.  15mph in this case.
  • Seat belt(s) ON if the vehicle was underway anywhere on the property.
  • Keep your trash in your truck. Do not litter.
  • Use the 2 porta-johns located at the corner of the right of way.

I also asked him for his supervisor’s phone number and told him flat out if there were any problems that he and I could not resolve I would place a call to his boss.  So life went on and every few days I would remind him of the rules when he came on shift at 7am.  Along about the 10th day, Tuco the Dog and I made a run to the back of the property to dump trash in a trash trailer and I paid special attention to the condition of the right of way.  On the way back, I made half a dozen stops to pick up take-out food boxes, plastic water bottles, a torn mud flap, a florescent safety vest and a left handed work glove.  The next morning, Sand Boss arrived and I told him ‘ hey, wait a minute. Got something for ya.’  He was all smiles because I guess he thought he was going to get a baggie of Miss K’s famous brownies or something.  I told him to pull up by the back of the Suburban and I unloaded all of his trash into the back of his pick up.  As this event was unexpected, he had nothing to say when I was done.  I shook my head and said ‘ You can do better.’ and walked off.  When the frac wound down a few days later, Tuco the Dog and I went up to inspect the staging area.  It was pristine.

The property directly beside us is laid out in a mirror image of our lease.  A 10′ tall mesh wire fence runs arrow straight for 3 miles or more to the back of the property.  Secondary roads branch off the main road to the individual pads.  They have been building roads and pads next door and I have been getting an earful of comments from OUR people about the going’s on over there.  I will give the recent gate guards credit for trying to calm things down but it is still looks like a 9 sided cluster f**k most days.  Rock truck drivers hauling the caliche road bed material are the unruliest and most ill-behaved of all the oil field cowboys.  My  Company Man stopped on his way out to  bitch about them– he said he paced one side by side going down the 3 mile road at 55mph.   Then the Ranch Manager watched several exit the 70mph Farm to Market and run through the neighboring entrance at probably 40mph or better.  All he could do is shake his head and say ‘ I hope nothin’ gets in their way.’

As far as I am concerned, we set the bar.   This is not the oil field as depicted in the cable show Black Gold.   Every oil company and contractor we have dealt with has been professional, responsible and very safety conscious.  Most of these roughnecks and roustabouts have a safety meeting at the start of each shift.   It is the only way of doing business if you expect to keep your job very long.  They set the bar high and if you don’t comply, you are gone.  Period.   If the safety and security practices around your gate are sloppy and lax,  whose fault is it?   An entrance gate is a prime location for an incident.  It is a choke point with traffic going in and out, me out in the road, traffic slowing down to exit the highway and slow traffic leaving the property merging on to a fast moving FM road.   One of my every day concerns is Miss K and I will have an incident right here at the gate and all the accusatory fingers will point directly at us.   I am doing every thing I can to make sure that never happens.

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Control your World, 9.9 out of 10 based on 16 ratings
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4 comments to Control your World

  • Doris

    Andy, you are not alone. We also run a tight gate and know who is coming and going. We also have neighbors we had to “help along” with how things work. They had lots of questions, but at least they were asking.

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  • Andy uses vinegar. I use honey. But, we both assert control over our gate.
    Ain’t no misbehaving!

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  • John Duncan

    I have heard of gates that the company man REQUIRES the gate to be shut down and locked at night with no exit or admission. It would, of course stand to reason that the guards actually go out and TELL the people that fact instead of letting them sit there and honk their horn.

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  • Michelle Huron

    Hey Andy and Ms K
    I wish I could have voted twice on this one. We are out here to do a job to
    the best of our ability. And per land owner/rancher, oil company and gg company’s orders/requests. If you only half ass do your job soon you won’t
    Have a job and possibly your gg company won’t either. I wholeheartedly agree with your views on 80%’rs.

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