Aitch Too Ess: Nothin’ to Sneeze At

Did I mention I have a new job? Still working for the same company, but I’ve moved over from the exploration group to the drilling department. I don’t have any experience in that area, but they said they needed the help, and I’m all about helping (as long as the paycheck shows up every other Friday).

Anyway, it’s an interesting – nay, fascinating – part of the oil and gas bidness, and I feel like I’m closer to the action than I’ve ever been. So close, in fact, that it could kill me.

If that sounds overly dramatic, check this out:

Photo of me wearing SCBA gear

This is old hat to some of you, but others may wonder what I’m doing wearing cowboy boots and SCUBA gear in the middle of the desert. Actually, that’s SCBA gear – same thing, without the “Underwater” part. It’s required PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for working in areas where you may encounter H2S (hydrogen sulfide) – and that’s pretty much everywhere there are oil and gas wells. If you’re interested in the gory details, check out the Wikipedia entry regarding “safety” and H2S. But I can save you some time: it’ll kill you dead with one breath. (And you don’t have to be an oilfield worker – or even human – to succumb to this silent killer.)

So, H2S safety training is mandatory at our company for anyone who might have occasion to venture into the field, either around a drilling rig or onto a producing property or related facilities. Most of our operations don’t have a high danger of H2S, but most of them have the potential, and we believe in being prepared. I daresay every other person reading this who works in the oilpatch has an employer that feels the same way.

I actually won’t be out in the field very often (although three days after taking the safety course, I was clambering around a drilling rig), but I’m outfitted with an H2S monitor (like a personal smoke alarm), flame-resistant jeans and shirt, steel-toed boots, and, of course, hard hat. 

My “Roughnecks Drill Deeper” tattoo is on order.

Next up: the importance of hardbanding.

Photo of casing with hardbanding

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Categorized as Oil & Gas


  1. I suppose it’s already occured to you, but you could wear the SCBA gear while cycling to simulate high-altitude training. You might have trouble recruiting your stoker to go along, though.

  2. Berry, that hadn’t occurred to me, but it’s sort of difficult to wear an air tank on your bike while sitting on a recumbent seat. I guess I could have Debbie hold the tank in her lap.
    My solution for high altitude training is simply to take every other breath.

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