On the derrick, a crew of three roughnecks stop drilling to make the pipe going into the Earth one length longer.

A length of pipe is retrieved from the squirrel cage at the top of the rig, lowered to the captured and clamped pipe at their feet. The new length of pipe is screwed onto the top of the pipe coming out of the hole, by two men, using chains and muscle. The tool pusher then touches a gear, when all hands are clear, and the newly extended drilling pipe rotates, and down drilling resumes.

Drilling in the continental U.S. hasn’t changed much in a hundred years. The derricks now are built from steel instead of wood, the drill bits are sharper and last longer, there is electricity instead of whale oil lamps. Drilling is quicker and there are more tests to determine if a well will be profitable.There are improved methods of extracting oil from your discoveries. There are more environmental regulations. The men on the derrick are rough and tumble pickup driving young men with crazy habits and a big bucket of problems. Most have too many girlfriends, too many kids, too many addictions, and too small a paycheck.

When the price of oil drops, drilling stops and small towns like Benkleman suffer. Much of the employment here is in the oil fields and state revenues are buoyed by taxes on each barrel of oil brought out of the ground. When the price of oil increases, good times roll. 

Seeing a new pair of boots in the driller’s shack is comforting. The country still needs energy, unpopular as the idea is to some. 

You can’t learn the oil business from books, you don’t find oil if you don ‘t drill., and doing what your dad does is natural.

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