by Jason Fagone
(photo by Robert Johnson, businessinsider.com)
From Stephen Rodrick’s piece on the oil boomtown of Williston, North Dakota, in the new Men’s Journal:
…for Joe’s crew, the next 14 hours are going to suck. Every joint of the pipe has to be filled with viscous oil-based drilling mud — the K-Y of drilling lubricant — before it is dropped in the ground. One of the Payzone guys describes it to me as “the Chernobyl of drilling fluid, the most chemical-laden goop known to man.” Now, it all has to come back up. When the pipe gets pulled out of the ground, the toxic K-Y is going to fly everywhere.
Joe tells his crew what they have to do. They look at him like he has told them to start digging their own graves. And in a way he has. If the shit gets on your skin, you break out in lesions and whiteheads.
Every piece of pipe the crew pulls out has to be broken off from the next pipe with giant tongs. The first pipe is lifted high up out of the ground. Joe’s crew breaks the connections, and a giant shit grenade goes off in 3D. Sludge rains down on their helmets, splattering their goggles. Joe’s crew stares hard at the Payzone Drilling guys, who cower inside the doghouse, the one covered area on the rig. One of the Payzone guys whispers he’s afraid the crew is going to sneak into his trailer at night and squeeze their whiteheads on his pillow. I’m not sure if he’s joking.
Happily, one member of Joe’s crew is turning his frown upside down. He frenetically licks the brown ooze as it nears his mouth. The Payzone guys stand and gape.