The Red Zone

100_0048The rig floor is called the RED ZONE now, and anyone caught treading into The Zone, who has not first notified the driller, signed the Permit to Work and the Task Based Risk Analysis (TBRA) gets canned. Deep water, where touchscreens and joysticks are the norm, the area is treated like a minefield.

Drillers and assistant drillers engage the equipment just like in times past, but before technology took over, unless ole Drill had a sudden tic and grabbed a lever by accident, the roughnecks weren’t at risk from a runaway tong.

I know of one occasion where the tera-dactal-bytes lost their collective minds and dropped a 100,000-pound, $10 million dollar top drive and traveling block onto the rig floor. Every red “Oh Crap!” button the driller could find to push didn’t stop that train wreck.100_0050

Another time, a computer tech sitting on his duff in Norway troubleshooting a software glitch managed to engage the drawworks and move 650,000 pounds of drilling assembly when we were making hole at 19,000’. That one was scary and begs to question what damage a hacker could reek because the rig was in the Gulf of Mexico.

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 6.53.10 AMI suppose the boys are lucky in some ways. Roughnecks dope pipe, pull slips and watch the equipment do most of the work. Oh, they still get dirty and sweaty and it takes as many men, more in some cases, than it did back when the work was done by hand.

When I worked floors, as we called the job in the olden days, I heard, “Get in there!”

Today, roughnecks hear, “Get out of there!”

One thought on “The Red Zone

  1. Are we really making holes faster or better than them olden days? The answer is probably “yes” but I can damn sure guarantee you that when some “uh oh” moment happens, those tera-dactyle bytes of data will reveal: who did it, when they did it, what they did (or didn’t) do, and where most of their fingers where when it happened. It will never record why they did it, that will be the domain of dozens and dozens of lawyers and government regulatory types.

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