What It’s Really Like to Work on an Oil Rig

Documentary filmmaker Ashley Panzera just arrived today, and Brad DeCecco leaves tomorrow, so for one night, the Oil Men team is on the town in Williston. The evening will likely involve strippers. More on that soon…

Brad DeCecco and I also spent five hours on an oil drilling rig yesterday. The rig was just across the border in Montana, and we donned hard hats, steel-toed boots and coveralls for our tour. The crew just had a major spill the day before – they had been using a high-pressure hose to pump toxic drilling mud into the ground when it suddenly exploded 40 feet up into the air, covering all the equipment, and almost taking out a few workers. One ducked for cover just in time. “Fifty pounds of pressure will kill you,” says Eric Olsen, a rig supervisor who gave us the tour, “and we had 3,000 pounds of pressure in the hose when it blew. If anybody had been close, it could’ve taken their head off.”

Olsen also said he’s heard about gruesome accidents when there’s a small leak in one of the high-pressure hoses. “It’s like a razor knife. You can walk across it and it’ll cut your leg off. And you won’t even know it’s leaking because it’s just a pinhole spray.”

Luckily no one had their leg or head taken off, but Brad and his camera were sprayed by bio diesel fuel at one point during the tour. We think him and his camera are fine, but we still can’t get the diesel smell off his camera.

Brothers Joe and Jonnie Boyles, and Jefferey Waldner / Photo by Brad DeCecco

Brothers Joe and Jonnie Boyles, and Jefferey Waldner / Photo by Brad DeCecco

Climbing onto the rig / Photo by Brad DeCecco

Climbing onto the rig / Photo by Brad DeCecco

The crew cleaning drilling mud off the rig / Photo by Brad DeCecco

The crew cleaning drilling mud off the rig / Photo by Brad DeCecco

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