Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Flare: Unexpected Pressures in an Old Oklahoma Oil Field

Podcast : Downloadable mp3 file...

Background: We drilled into an overpressured zone, totally unexpected in a mature oil and gas field. We were trying to recover the oil left behind, between the old wells. In order to avoid a blowout, we vented the gas through drilling pipe, ignited it to avoid an explosion. The resulting flare was visible miles across the Oklahoma prairie.

Ignited, I am burning;
the flow of gas from deep below is natural
but overpressured; my heart pounds,
a jet engine trapped 5,000 feet under the ground;

adrenaline has its own sweetness
on a crisp spring day like today

our new pickup truck, a collie named Zeus in the back;
crunch of gravel, rattle of cattle guards
the lease roads are as rutted as this old field
first drilled when they stored the oil in earthen lagoons

flared gas has its own freshness
in an old field everyone said was worn out, depleted, old

time loops back on itself; the roar of the past heating up the present
now, like then, investors came down from "back East"
drilled into the dark, red earth
archival photos: towns with board sidewalks
laws prohibiting dancing and spitting on those fresh boards;
a toolpusher smiling at a woman selling towels, sheets, and pliers

from boomtown to ghost town to boomtown
the story of you & me a lot like that
we thought our hearts were depleted
but then some wildcatting impulse told us to take the risk

we drilled, we hit, and it’s still such a surprise
encountering such fresh, recoverable reserves



I know we’ve met sometime and someplace before

sometimes memory needs the burn
sometimes my heart needs the heat

stave off the sadness:
an anonymous driller naming his first well the Ganymede #1;
an abandoned wife
watching oil rainbow her freshwater pond.

We can put the past behind us now;
Zeus is asleep in the bed of the truck.

The well is safely under control
hands calm with something to hold onto