Drilling Crew Out and Frack Crew In

As I have mentioned before, different teams of subcontractors complete different phases of an oilfield project, and when those teams switch out it can be a bit chaotic.  We have heard lots of people talk about the frack phase in particular but up until this point we have not experienced a full switch, having been brought in or left mid phase on both of the other gates we’ve worked. All I can say is it is crazy busy.  The volume has jumped astronomically and we are both busy on our shifts. What can be particularly challenging is when big equipment is leaving and coming in at the same time, and although this was somewhat staggered we did have a couple of instances where we had big rig traffic coming in and out at the same time, which can be tricky.  I kind of enjoy the challenge to be honest because I get to be bossy to my heart’s content, but if it’s busy (I had one 30 minute period where 15 trucks came in and 10 left for example) I do get a little harried.

Here’s an example of big traffic coming in and going out. These drivers are REALLY good though

Thankfully the drivers are all really good about following directions and the rule that incoming traffic always has the right of way does seem to be universally understood.  Our main goal is to keep people off the road, which requires some quick thinking when there is a line of trucks.  First and foremost all we do in those situations is get the plate number and if possible the company.  We wave them through and write really fast so we can mainly keep traffic in continuous flow.  One thing that suffers is the paperwork.  I have a teeny bit of dyslexia and on occasion my numbers get jumbled, but the company man was very clear.  The priority is always safety, and trucks sitting still on the main road is not safe.

The scope of these moves is hard to explain, although one anecdote may help.  At 1am I talked to some guys who went to Mcdonald’s and the 40 cheeseburgers they ordered really ticked off the night crew.  There are tons of people coming and going all day and night and for Lee in particular it’s been super busy.  I’ll just share some more pictures with you so you can get a feel for things, but the main point is sometimes there is no downtime in this job.  That’s important to know if you are thinking about trying it.


Even with the pavement we get some dust from these big guys

You can see me for scale. These things are huge



Here’s me being bossy lol. I thought I looked more intimidating than this 🙂

You can see the incoming truck for scale . This one was crazy big


Lee looking official

I have no idea what most of these things do, Lee think most of it was designed from Dr. Seuss drawings.



I will on occasion get out in the middle of the road but for obvious reasons try to keep that to a minimum.  If you are wondering why I don’t have my vest on, it’s a bee magnet.  We have set out bee traps but in the meantime any bright colors and they land right on you. So Deb no gate guarding for you.

The biggest bummer of the whole thing for me was they actually took the drill tower down after dark.  I really wanted to see that and take some pictures, but it all happened late with just floodlights on the area, which honestly surprised me.  I guess I thought they would have waited until daylight. Here’s the last picture I got of the drill towards dusk.


We did have a beautiful full moon though that was orange when it was close to the horizon but got white as it got higher in the sky.  There was also a lunar eclipse but we missed it since it was cloudy in the morning.

And last pic is one of the hawks in the field.  They have been around less with all the hoopla…or maybe I just don’t have time to notice them, but I got this cool picture of a red-shouldered hawk, which was a first for that bird for me.



So it was a crazy few days, but I am thankful to say that things have calmed down quite a bit.  We haven’t started the frack process yet, and expect some steady traffic through that, but for now the major big equipment moves all seem to be done.


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7 thoughts on “Drilling Crew Out and Frack Crew In

  1. That’s a lot of big machinery!! I had to giggle, “at your bossy self !! ” Great job explaining what’s happening! Sounds very interesting!!

  2. What numbers are you recording? License plates? Would it help to take a photo of whatever numbers you are having to write down? I totally understand about messing up numbers! I am sure you are handling it all just fine.

    • We do license plates or truck numbers if they have them. Lee was actually talking about taking pictures the other day but I think that might over complicate things especially on a busy day

  3. I’m not sure if you were around for the “debate” on the natural gas pipeline proposed to go through NY, MA and southern New Hampshire. I can personally tell you that it got ugly. Do you have any thoughts or misgivings about participating in the fracking, oil/gas production process which some consider the most evil, harmful thing that can be done to the environment?

    • It’s an interesting question. I’m from the Midwest and I hate to see land not being used. Since this land isn’t good for much except cattle grazing I think it’s good when I see drilling or windmills or solar panels. I do have concerns about the environmental impact of those things of course, especially how our water is impacted, but I think these operations can be done safely if the EPA is given the funds to do it’s job. When you see poverty in these small towns it’s hard to argue with anything that brings funds to the area. It’s a balance for sure and we have seen areas that are being stripped but we have also seen companies who handle energy production responsibly. That’s just my personal take on it.

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