Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Breaking Ground Then Home Again

"You probably want your earplugs in."
-Field Engineer just before firing up 27,000 horsepower worth of pumping equipment.

I've mentioned a few times in the past that I'm a glorified Roto-Rooter Man for oil/gas wells. It can be a real high-pressure job.

Ha ha ha! Uh, actually that pun will make more sense in a few paragraphs.

Last Thursday I had to make a quick run out to West Texas to observe a job. The well was located about sixty miles southwest of Ozona, Texas. To put that in perspective, Ozona is the ONLY town in Crockett County, Texas. This county covers 2,807 SQUARE MILES! I was on the far side of nowhere.

Which was actually a very lovely place.

Wow, nothing but cactus, cedars, yuccas, rattlesnakes and dust for about a zillion miles in any direction. I could live here. I'd really miss Misseswether though.

We were there to run a foamed acid frac on a natural gas well. This involves pumping 60,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid and liquified carbon dioxide gas 15,000 feet down a well with enough force to shatter the earth with 600-foot cracks radiating from the well. The acid then chewed up the surfaces of these long cracks (aka fractures or "fracs"), opening them even wider so the natural gas could flow out easier. After pumping the acid was finished the carbon dioxide turns back to a gas and forces all the spent fluid back out of the well.

It's a thing of beauty.

The convoy arrives.

We had ten 10,000 gallon acid tanks (several were spares), ten pump trucks (2,700 hp each), two chemical blenders, four liquified carbon dioxide tankers, and assorted other support vehicles, control vans and a portable chemistry lab.

Frac tanks.

The tanks on the right held the acid and the things on the left were the chemical blenders. They mixed assorted corrosion inhibitors, friction reducers, iron control agents, and acid gellants into the acid.

Blender unit. This measured out the different chemical additives and injected them into the acid.

Rigging up the big iron, which means attaching the steel pipes from the pump trucks to the wellhead.

The well-head, ready to go. The red pipes carry the carbon dioxide and the gray pipes carry the acid/chemicals.

The pump trucks getting ready to shatter earth.

And so it begins.

The white plumes are jets of carbon dioxide freezing the air above the pump trucks. When everything is running at full power it kind of sounds like, well, the end of the world.

It's a thing of beauty.

Pumping the 60,000 gallons took 35 minutes, then everything had to be torn down, packed up and returned to base. I got to skip that part. It was 5pm in the evening at this point and I had to drive back to Houston, almost 600 miles away. I got home a minute before 4am Saturday morning and crawled into bed. Then I crawled back out at three hours later to watch the girls while Misseswether went to class.

But you know what, that was all right.

Catching toads.

Book time.

Woodland Princess


The Adventurer.

My life is so cool.

Adventure! Excitement! Excitement!

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