Before the mid-1950’s, very little acknowledgement was given to the risks and dangers lease pumpers face while working with high levels of hydrogen sulfide gases (H2S). Although improvements to drilling rigs have allowed us to achieve depths of over 20,000 feet, experience has shown “the deeper the well, the higher the bottom hole pressure and more H2S gases the lease workers will experience”. In fact, some wells have H2S rates so high, they have to plug the entire well.

Lease Worker Fundamentals

While regulations have been written and enacted to protect lease workers from this growing danger, this is still a worldwide concern. Due to these revised laws, regulations, and large court awarded settlements to workers (or their families) when negligence can be shown; most companies typically utilize the best equipment, exposure considerations, literature, etc. they can afford. One of the most important aspects of this is education and training; to help understand more about hydrogen sulfide gas and the dangers associated with it, here are some of the most common questions lease workers have about hydrogen sulfide.


What Is Hydrogen Sulfide?

Hydrogen Sulfide (also referred to as H2S) is a naturally occurring gas produced along with natural gas and crude oil. Like many other gases, it can be fatal if breathed in. Therefore, it is vital for lease workers to have some form of breathing apparatus on hand; as well as understand the warning marks. Tanks containing deadly amounts of hydrogen sulfide are typically marked by a star or some other indicator showing the presence of H2S. When this warning is present, lease pumpers may be required to wear a breathing apparatus when testing or sampling the crude oil.


What Are the Important Properties of Hydrogen Sulfide?

In order to fully understand how hydrogen sulfide acts the way it does, you have to be aware of the physical properties of the gas; with H2S being a colorless gas consisting of two parts hydrogen and one part sulfur.  Other properties include:

  • Has an API gravity of 47.6
  • Has a blue flame when burned
  • Has a boiling point -75° F
  • Is explosive in the air
  • Is slightly heavier than air, thus will seek lower areas
  • It attacks a large amount of metals to form sulfides (usually insoluble precipitates)
  • It dissolves in water, forming a weak hydrosulfurous acid
  • It has a melting point of -119°
  • It is extremely poisonous
  • It is soluble in water
  • Liquid density of 0.790 @ 60°F
  • Typically gives off an odor of rotten eggs in small doses. However, higher concentrations can cause the olfactory nerve to be paralyzed within 60 seconds, making the odor undetectable.

What Are the Dangers of Breathing H2S?

The toxicity level of H2S is typically determined by the parts per million (or ppm) in the air. This means a 100 ppm concentration of hydrogen sulfide is equivalent to 100 liters of H2S in a million liters of air. How a specific concentration level will effect an individual is determined by a wide variety of factors including: age, air temperature, health, humidity, personal susceptibility, and more. The following values are general guidelines for lease pumpers to keep in mind.

1 ppm or 1/10,000 of 1 % Can be smelled (typically smelling of rotten eggs)
10 ppm or 1/1,000 of 1 % 8-hour exposure permit.
100 ppm or 1/100 of 1% Will numbs your sense of smell within 3-15 minutes, and can also burn your eyes and throat.
200 ppm or 2/100 of 1 % Will quickly numb your sense of smell and burn your eyes and throat
500 ppm or 5/100 of 1 % Causes loss of logic, reasoning, and balance; and within 2-15 minutes will result in respiratory disturbances requiring prompt artificial resuscitation.
700 ppm or 7/100 of 1% Quickly causes unconsciousness, breathing stops, and death will result immediately if the individual is not saved promptly.
1,000 ppm or 1/10 of 1% Immediate unconsciousness occurs, and permanent brain damage can result if not freed quickly.

To ensure you use the proper tools, lease pumpers can also use exposure monitors to measure the contamination levels (see Figure 1).

Lease Worker Fundamentals

Figure 1. Exposure meters used for hydrogen sulfide. (courtesy Mine Safety Equipment Co.)

What Safe Working Procedures Should be Followed in Gaseous Areas?

Whenever a situation arises for lease pumpers to go into a gaseous area alone, there are certain precautions they should use; and since there is no backup, they should take even more measures to ensure their personal safety. For example, first and foremost, you should always check your equipment and make sure it is on (see Figure 2) and operating correctly before entering the contaminated region; and the lease pumper should continue wearing the breathing apparatus until they exit the area.

Lease Worker Fundamentals

Figure 2. Example of safety equipment – a warning gate indicating the existence H2S, and that a breathing apparatus is required to proceed.

There are also plenty of different hydrogen sulfide safety training courses available for lease workers, and everyone should take the time for these courses. This official training will help result in a better understanding of the material than if you had read the information in a pamphlet. Plus this will also give the lease pumper valuable experience and training with 30-minute backpacks, 5-minute emergency escape pack, exposure recorders, H2S detectors, monitors, safety equipment, a variety of situations you will rarely see working in the field, and valuable advice from those who have experienced different things.

Remember: when working in a group, only one person will be required to have this formal training. However, it is important for any lease worker who has the chance of working alone on the lease to complete these safety preparation courses.


Where Will A Lease Pumper Encounter Hydrogen Sulfide?

Lease workers can come into contact with H2S almost anywhere on the lease. This can include areas such as:

  • Acidizing Wells
  • Closed Tanks and/or Vessels
  • Contaminated Sulfur
  • Drilling Muds
  • Gauging Tanks
  • Injection of Sour Gas
  • Pits and/or Low Areas on Still Days (see Figure 3)
  • Tank Bottoms
  • Vapor Recovery Units
  • Water Injection

Lease Worker Fundamentals

Figure 3. Windsocks are often used on sites to show the wind direction and to determine whether it is likely for a H2S buildup.

What Type of Breathing Apparatus Should a Lease Worker Use?

When working in the field, there are times when it is essential to have some form of fresh air available. These fresh air systems used by lease workers can range from fairly simple devices to very elaborate ones. Although the most common system is a portable air pack; some companies or lease owners are known to use industrial size fresh air bottles strapped to a truck bed with a long hose on a reel or other measures. Whatever type you choose, in order for the device to continue to save lives, you always need to properly use and care for your safety gear.

  • 5-Minute Air Packs

One of the most widely used and recognized safety backup systems is the five-minute air pack (see Figure 4). This device can be used for an emergency escape; including areas where air packs may only be slightly needed. Any instance where the lease pumper is being continuously fed air through a hose; the worker should wear a five-minute air pack for emergencies. Workers should also carry backup systems whenever working in areas more than a few seconds away from safety.

Lease Worker Fundamentals

Figure 4. A service bench with 5-Minute Air Packs and 30-Minute Backpacks. (courtesy Marathon Safety Department, Iraan, Texas)

  • 30-Minute Backpacks

Another widely used option is the 30-minute fresh air unit (see Figure 4). This breathing apparatus is highly recommended because it can be quickly gauged and generally lasts a week or longer before needing refilled. The device comes in a form-fitting box, and it should be stored there whenever it is not in use. The worker should also:

  1. Carry a few essential replacement parts (such as the spider or head strap),
  2. Always keep the device (and the box) clean,
  3. And if the pack ever breaks a strap, always replace it before wearing it again.
  • Compressing Fresh Air (Models using Large Industrial Size Bottles)

These air bottles can typically be refilled at most town fire stations for a fee. Nevertheless, in areas where large amounts of fresh air are consumed, you will also find a variety of companies providing this refill service. In most cases, when a company consumes large quantities of fresh air, the owner(s) will install some form of their own refilling equipment (see Figure 5), such as a compressor. The compressor uses the surrounding air to refill the bottles by first compressing the air, then injecting the air into a series of industrial sized bottles. This acts as an oxygen volume tank to help reduce the time needed to refill the bottles later on.

Lease Worker Fundamentals

Figure 5. A compressor used to fill fresh air tanks. (courtesy Marathon Safety Department, Iraan, Texas)

When filling these bottles, it is common to generate heat. As a result, the bottles are often submerged in water while they are being refilled. 30-minute bottles are also branded with a date, and it is required for them to periodically be checked. In addition, these bottles are illegal to refill after a set amount of time has passed, and each bottle is to be replaced with one meeting the proper inspection tests.

When large amounts of air are required, industrial-sized bottles (see Figure 6) with an air line and face mask are often required. These can be rigged up in a variety of ways; from the tank battery to the bed of a pickup truck.

Lease Worker Fundamentals

Figure 6. Industrial-sized bottles waiting to be filled with fresh air. The water tank on the left is where the small air tanks are cooled during the refill process. (courtesy Marathon Safety Department, Iraan, Texas)

In most cases, an industrial-sized air tank is too large and heavy to tote around and carry. Typically an air hose is used to transfer air from the bottle to the user, with a fresh air mask being utilized by each person breathing the air (see Figure 7). Typically the tank is just on stand by; and if a warning alarm or horn goes off detecting gas, the masks will be used wigging up to kill the well again. Sometimes when pulling wells or when workers are cleaning tanks, all crew members will be breathing air through hoses and masks.

Lease Worker Fundamentals

Figure 7. A lease worker using an industrial-sized air tank with an air mask, and a 5-minute escape pack for emergencies. (courtesy Mine Safety Appliance Co.)

  • Trailer-Mounted Standby Units

Industrial-sized air tanks can be used in two different ways. It can be mounted to the bed of a pickup with a reel hose, or it can be installed on the ground at the end of a walkway. This type of air tank is often selected for cleaning tanks, new construction, well servicing, and other jobs onsite (see Figure 8).

Lease Worker Fundamentals

Figure 8. Trailer Mounted Fresh Air Devices (courtesy Marathon Safety Department, Iraan, Texas)

Whether you use a trailer mounted fresh air device or a 5-minute emergency air pack, you should always take care of your breathing apparatus. You can learn a lot about an employee based on how they use and take care of their equipment. For instance, visually inspecting the breathing apparatus and looking at the bottle’s refill schedule can indicate a great deal.

As soon as a lease pumper receives his breathing gear, they should first inspect it, put it on, adjust it to fit properly, open the valves, set the rate, and find out if the device works in a satisfactory manner. Generally the device will use quick connect fittings to buckle on, the settings will remain as is, until they are adjusted again. Therefore, when a supervisor checks the equipment and finds the apparatus still wrapped as it was when it was shipped, it is obvious the lease pumper has not been using it.

Remember: Breathing equipment may be expensive, but it provides an invaluable service when properly cared for and maintained; and after each use, the lease pumper should take a few moments to clean and properly store this life saving equipment.

Is your appetite for oil & gas operating knowledge insatiable like ours? 😀 If so, check out the related article, Oil and Gas Safety: Topics of Discussion for Oilfield Operators – it will surely pump you up!!!

In the oilfield, many of your duties are performed alone. Therefore, it is vital to follow the proper oil & gas safety procedures put in place by the state and federal governments, as well as the specific methods required by the company you work for. In order to maintain the best personal safety you can while on duty, you should always keep these five important topics in mind.

oil gas safety


Common Sense and Good Judgement is Key in Oilfield Safety

Working independently is vastly different than working in a group. You have to think ahead, and use both good judgment and common sense. As a lease pumper, you need to know what problems you can and cannot address on your own; as well as what risks you should or should not take. While threatening situations can occur, lease pumpers should never take any dangerous risks unless it is to avoid serious injury or death. Remember saving time is never worth your personal safety.

When you’re used to working alone, common sense well alert you to plan ahead. This small tactic can not only save you time; but it can also be the difference between something serious happening, or a quick and easy repair.  This is especially true if you want to be successful as a lease pumper. There are a wide variety of situations that can occur every day, and you need to prepare for different contingencies to help soften the blow. For instance, ‘What do you do if you experience problems in a remote area of the lease?’, ‘Do you keep your spare tire’s air checked?’, or ‘Do you have all the proper first-aid supplies on hand?’ These are the kind of things that will help you to avoid potentially dangerous situations later on down the road.

Lease  pumpers spend a lot of time driving to locations across the lease; so it’s not a matter of if you will get a flat tire, so much as when. To prepare for this common issue, lease pumpers should make it a regular habit to check their spare tire. Other common safety practices can include:

  • having two batteries mounted under the hood for jump starting lease engines,
  • walking around something, rather than under it,
  • having a small compressor (that can run off your car battery) to pump low or flat tires,
  • have a spare set of vehicle keys (for in case you lock your keys inside the vehicle),
  • and more.

Every oil worker should carry a portable phone or radio. Communication is key to working alone; and if a problem occurs, you have to be able to contact the necessary help. Always have contingencies set for any situation. For instance, knowing the location of the nearest public phone or house can be invaluable in the event your phone or radio loses power, becomes damaged, or you need emergency assistance in any way.


Oil & Gas Safety Topic 1: Avoid Taking Unnecessary Risks

Taking unnecessary chances or risks is the leading cause for lease pumpers to develop issues while working alone. For instance, if a leak is found at a coupling where it is only allowing a small amount of gas to escape; a quick fix would be to mount a collar leak clamp, which generally would take a lease pumper less than 15 minutes to complete. However, not all instances come complication-free. Circumstances can (and do) arise that will delay your process. This could include: trouble finding a suitable clamp or tool, a wrench drop causing sparks to ignite the gas, or a wide range of other options. Due to this, you should always shut in wells, and/or bleed the pressure off the line(s) before attempting any installations or repairs. Many major accidents where oil workers have died were the result of what initially started as small leaks or repairs. In most of these situations, the leaks or repairs were viewed as too small to pose any significant risks; thus chances were taken, and this carelessness ultimately resulted in the death of the field worker.

Every accident that occurs is made up of bad decisions and unfortunate circumstances. No one was around to perform first-aid, if only the wind had been blowing that day, or if the gas hadn’t of accumulated; every situation is different, and a million and one things can change the outcome. While a lease pumper doesn’t need to constantly fear death to do their job, they do need to evaluate every action they can (or cannot) make, and determine how it impacts the potential outcome. If an action appears risky, the worker should always weigh their other options, and/or obtain the required help to reduce the risks to safer levels.


Topic 2 for Oil and Gas Safety: Keep Safety an Essential Part of the Job

A common view about safety is that it is like a winter coat. Once the weather is cold, a person will put it on; but when it gets warmer, they feel less inclined to use it. This is similar to work. When a dangerous situation comes along on during your duties, people become more concerned about personal safety. However, just because the crisis is averted, doesn’t mean safety concerns should disappear. A safe attitude should carry over into everything we do; whether you’re working, fishing, or driving home for the night.

The way a lease pumper drives is often a good reflection on their attitude towards work safety. For example, speed limits are set as a safety precaution for motorists concerning how fast it is safe for a driver to go on a given road in good conditions (dry roads, fair weather, normal traffic, etc.). During the optimum weather conditions, many drivers will feel going a few miles over the speed limit isn’t a big deal; and in most cases, this is true as long as the road maintains ideal conditions. Unfortunately, these ideal situations can cause a person’s attention to wonder, such as a lease pumper thinking about all the tasks they have ahead of them for the day, making the driver no longer as alert as he was before. A light scatter rainstorm can create wet pavement in an area up ahead, an oncoming care-without warning, or a blown tire; there are hundreds of possibilities that can occur in the blink of an eye. However, by this point it no longer matters what happened or why; it is about the crash or injury.

Every year people are severely injured over situations that could have easily been avoided. Things like driving while reading a newspaper, talking on the phone, or other circumstances that became more important than the person’s personal safety. To be a successful lease pumper, you need to make the aspect of safety as essential to your job as when you are driving a car.


Oilfield Safety Topic of Discussion 3: Know the Correct Industry Colors, Markers, Notices, and Warnings

Just like our roadways have a variety of signs with different shapes, colors and meanings; the oil industry has their own standards of information used for providing information. Over the years, the appearance and meaning of the sign have been refined and standardized until every color, shape, and size used could indicate something from a distance (even before the person can read the exact lettering). Typically these signs offer information about a potential danger, equipment or supply information, location of first-aid or fire extinguishers, or other safety related information; with most lease sites marked with general signage used uniquely to the oil industry.

oil gas safety

Figure 1. Examples of signs you may see on a lease. (Courtesy Marathon Safety Department, Iraan, Texas)

Both signs for warnings and notices provide useful information for the lease pumper and anyone else who visits the lease site; and are categorized into six major areas: Caution, Danger, Notice, Radiation, Safety, and Warning. Although there are specific color combinations used for each of the different sign categories, some standard sign information is also used, such as the white background with the words “KEEP OUT” in black lettering.  Other common identifiers include:

Caution signs are typically installed where danger is not always present or is not likely to lead to a serious injury or death.The coloring is typically white or black lettering on a yellow background. These types of signs can include:

  • Low Head Room
  • Wide Turning Trucks
  • Step Down

Danger signs usually have white lettering on a red background, with the information area having a white background with black lettering. These signs indicate a serious condition or situation that can result in serious injury or even death.This can include:

  • Flammable
  • Hard Hat Area
  • High Pressure Gas Line
  • High Voltage
  • No Smoking

Notices typically have a blue background with white lettering in the header, with a white information background with black lettering. These notices typically provide advisory information such as:

  • Authorized Personnel Only
  • Keep Doors Closed
  • Tornado Shelter

The heading for a radiation sign is typically based on the present warning. Headers could read: Radiation, Danger, or Warning. Common conditions described for the industry include:

  • Radiation Hazard
  • Radioactive Waste
  • X-Ray Equipment in Use

Safety signs typically have a header with a green background and white lettering, with the information area having black on white. These signs generally remind workers to practice good safety practices, such as:

  • Keep This Area Clean
  • Safety Begins with You
  • Wash Your Hands

Warning signs are typically on an orange background in both the header and information areas, and use black lettering. These signs indicate a situation that could lead to a permanent injury, but in most cases, not death. Examples could include:

  • Do Not Use Two-Way Radios
  • Eye Protection Required
  • Hard Hat Area

Although the majority of safety signs have been standardized over the years, lease pumpers are likely to see variations of the different areas described. For example, certain headers may have in color.  Ultimately the risk presented determines the look of the sign, and some signs have been known to have the same information, only different headers. It doesn’t matter where you are on the lease; at some point, you will come into contact with industry signs. Common options found at the tank battery or well site can include:

  • Air Pack Required
  • Authorized Personnel Only
  • Do Not Enter
  • Equipment Starts Automatically
  • H2S Poisonous Gas
  • Hard Hat Required
  • High Voltage
  • No Smoking

Oilfield Safety Meeting Topic 4: Wear the Proper Gear

When working on a lease, there are dangers all around you. Generally most companies will provide you (and any other employee or visitor) with the required safety equipment needed on site. The necessary gear can vary depending upon the specific safety equipment requirement guidelines set by the state and/or federal regulations. Some of the more essential equipment used, include:

  • Breathing Device

There are several different types of breathing apparatuses in field use. Generally, most lease pumpers carry their own personal air mask while working on the job. Some lease stores are known to stock additional air packs on the lease for personnel or visitors.

  • Eye Wash Station

Eye wash stations are available around the lease in areas where there are high risks for eye injuries from chemicals or small particles. Workers should be aware of the different risks for eye injuries, as severe damage can occur in only a few short seconds. For instance, when gauging a tank and the lease pumper gets his or her eyes exposed to the hot gases rushing up out of the tank; a common reaction is to turn away into the cooler air. However, this will only close the pores and trap the gas inside your eyes; causing a painful eye experience for the next 24 hours or until the gas has the chance to escape or diffuse into the body. Along with knowing where the eye wash stations are located, lease pumpers should also keep an eye wash solution and lubricant within their first-aid kit.oil gas safety

Figure 2. Example of an Eye Wash Station

  • Goggles

Goggles are highly recommending when gauging hydrogen sulfide-producing atmospheric vessels or when a vapor recovery unit has several ounces of pressure inside it; and are mandatory during any situation where you may experience flying projectiles.

  • Hearing Protection

Earmuffs are mandatory for workers in situations where they may experience loud noises. Long-term exposure to these noises can cause damage to your hearing, or even interfere with your sense of balance.

  • Spark-Proof Tools

These specialized tools are used to reduce the risk of creating sparks that could ignite a fire in an explosive atmosphere. They are typically very expensive and made out of some form of brass. Most lease pumpers do not carry many spark-proof tools, and commonly only have a hammer and a small adjustable wrench on hand.

The exact types of safety equipment used should be determined by what type of equipment will make the job safer. For example, some lease pumpers utilize back protection belts for those who are required to do a great deal of lifting; while others only use the appropriate safety equipment for their current work situations. However, typically the company you work for will provide you will all the safety equipment needs believed necessary for their lease pumpers.

Is your appetite for oil & gas operating knowledge insatiable like ours? 😀 If so, check out the related article, Lease Worker Fundamentals to Hydrogen Sulfide Gases – it will surely pump you up!!!

From the lease owner to regulatory agencies, when you work as a lease pumper there are plenty of relationships you will have to maintain. However, one often overlooked association is between the lease pumper and the owner of the land. To help preserve a healthy alliance with the land owner, it is essential to follow good lease maintenance protocols. While this can cover a wide array of duties, always ensure to keep up with these 11 important areas of oil & gas lease operating maintenance!

Lease Maintenance


Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #1: Cattle Guards and Gates

Lease Maintenance

A lease pumper requires daily access to the site as soon as a producing well has been established onsite. This often involves the use of fences and gates as vehicles will be required to pass through to get to the equipment and well. These protective measures ensure both the livestock and the equipment are kept safe.  Cattle guards are often used in place of gates to avoid having to stop and get out of the vehicle to open and close the gate. Once the gate or guard is set up, the lease pumper needs to take in all safety considerations. This includes the distance between the highway and the cattle guard or gate. There should always be enough space for a large truck and trailer, a well servicing unit, or other large vehicles to stop completely in front of the gate or guard, without cutting off the public roads in any way.

Lease Maintenance

Figure 1. A poorly installed cattle guard fence. Notice how the guard is filled with dirt, allowing animals to walk over it.

To keep the gates and/or guards in tip-top shape, always make sure to properly clean out, and if needed, re-leveled to ensure the safety of the vehicles and animals. If the well becomes closed or abandoned, it is up to the lease operator to remove the cattle guard or to replace the sections of fence.


Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #2: Lease Office

Commonly referred to as dog houses, lease offices are usually a one room building that is around 8 feet wide and 12 foot long. However, the exact measurements typically depend upon the lease. The area is used to store a desk or work area for the lease pumper, and storage. Depending upon the lease, it can also house several different daytime pumpers. The exact specifics are typically determined by the size of the facility and lease.

For instance, some lease offices have an attached materials storage room, equipped with a truck unloading door; while others only house a single desk and a room for spare equipment. Remember, no matter what type of facility is on the property, you should always keep the lease office well maintained for both a great appearance, and the safety of anyone who frequents the building.


Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #3: Livestock Injuries

The majority of leases are located on land where livestock roam free (ex. ranch, farm, etc.). As a lease pumper, you will encounter livestock on a regular basis while driving around during your daily duties. However, when areas are not properly fenced, livestock may start the habit of seeking shade near the lease equipment (see figure 1). To keep these animals safe from injury to both themselves and the equipment, a lease operator should always install sufficient fencing to keep animals out. Remember: small animals (such as calves, goats, and sheep) often lie down in the shade and can easily fit under some fences; to avoid this issue, ensure you use the proper fencing options for all the livestock and small animals involved.

Lease Maintenance

Figure 2. Cattle and other animals may seek the shade offered by the oil field equipment.

The land belongs to the landowner; and as such, they have the right to run livestock on the property. This also means they have the right to protect their livestock. Whenever you’re driving on the lease, always take care when near the animals. For instance, cattle may follow a lease pumper during the beginning of a lease. This is due to many herds are fed supplement feed, and thus may think you are there to feed them. Over time, they will realize you are not there for them, and will leave you to your duties.

Lease Maintenance

Figure 3. Often times, fences are installed around the equipment to keep out the landowner’s livestock.

Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #4: Off-Road Travel

The mineral lease agreement holds many of the specific details you will need. This includes: the location and type of road construction, how wide the roads are, as well as the location of the pits, tank batteries, and wells.  During the course of time, a mud hole may develop in a low area of the road. While a lease pumper may be tempted to just drive around the hole, you should always try to solve the issue at hand. For instance, in this case the pumper could bring a small load of rocks to fill and repair the road damage.

Lease pumpers should always avoid going off road whenever possible. Otherwise you put yourself at risk for damaging the property as well as a wide variety of violations, such as: collisions with livestock or equipment, dead grass, soil erosion, and more. Typically the first indication the landowner does not approve of the lease pumpers practices is by providing a bill to the lease operator for the specific damages. However, some landowners have been known to take direct action by changing the locks or even forbidding the lease operator from coming onto the property.

In some instances, a third party may be responsible for the damages (ex. well service crew). Nonetheless, the landowner will still characteristically place the blame on the lease operator. Regardless of who is at fault, or whether or not the damage is real or imaginary; serious problems can arise when anyone drives off the roads or locations of the lease. Always use common sense to determine the best course for inspecting nearby installations. For example, walk to the location if a problem could occur from driving there.

One of the best ways to help prevent issues is to nurture the relationship with the landowner. Many lease pumpers become close friends with the landowners, which can provide them with a little more breathing room. For instance, in the event of a problem; the landowner is more willing to talk to the lease pumper, rather than just get angry and withdraw.


Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #5: Open Pits and Vents

It is common to find open pits in an oil field. Unfortunately, due to the lower water tables, dams, and other issues; these pits also invite the local birds (and any migrating through the area) to land on or beside these ponds to get a drink. This has caused a number of animals and birds to die from drinking oil and/or non-potable water. The same thing goes for vents. When opened, vents can make an attractive location for nesting; and can often draw in bats, birds, squirrels, and other small animals.

We have already lost so many species of birds in our lifetimes, and hundreds more will be lost during our child’s lifetimes. Don’t contribute to this tragedy. Always guarantee you are following the proper regulations and protocols to protect the area wildlife. Pits should be fenced, coverings should be carefully planned and thought out, and make sure careful maintenance practices are followed.


Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #6: Plants and Animals

As a lease pumper, it’s a guarantee you will come into contact with plants and animals at some point throughout your line of work. While some plants are native to the area; others could be planted by the landowner to improve the land, as a cash crop, or any number of reasons. On the other hand, animals (including wild birds) are often regulated by the state fish and game board, or even federal regulations; and in some cases, the landowner may consider the wildlife as part of their property (even performing some degree of care for the creatures).

Birds can make nests on the oilfield equipment, animals may use the equipment for shelter, or livestock may find their way into the area. Despite these issues, both the lease pumper and the lease operator do not have the unconditional right to attempt to control these animals. For instance, if a bird is endangered, the pumper will have to wait until the eggs have hatched, and the young birds have left the nest before attempting to haul away the equipment. To make sure all proper procedures are followed, always talk to the land owner (and if necessary, the fish and game department) when you experience any issues caused by plants or animals.


Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #7: Road Maintenance

It can be very expensive to build and/or maintain roads. You can experience pot holes, mud or water in the road after excessive rains, or other surface issues that can develop over time. Due to this, unless you have a high producing well, there is typically little money available to go towards road maintenance. To help combat these issues (and prevent them from becoming larger issues), many lease pumpers will periodically perform various road services. This could include: putting small loads of gravel in mud holes, moving large rocks to the side of the road, or other road maintenance.


Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #8: Soil Contamination

Working as a lease pumper requires you to handle a wide variety of substances that are hazardous to the environment. This can include: chemicals, salt water, oil, petroleum production substances, and other various materials. Spills from any of these materials can pose an eminent risk to both humans and animals (livestock and wildlife) alike. These substances can kill plants, grass, and other vegetation; or even prevent anything from growing for the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is vital for a lease pumper to address any spills or leaks as soon as possible; and every effort must be made to clean up after the mess.

Sometimes this can be completed by simply following the directions on the product label. Other times, it may indicate soil should be mixed in with the spill; or water should be used to dilute it. Depending upon the circumstances, you may even be required to call in a specialty crew for clean up. Whatever the case, always make sure to report the incident to the proper regulatory agency.


Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #9: Trash Removal

You should never accumulate trash on the lease. A lease agreement does not give the lease pumper, or any other individual entering the lease, the right to scatter bottles, cans, or other trash along the way. Many of the roads on a lease are private, and it is up to the lease operator to remove all trash and keep the paths clean. The best method is to pick up any trash as soon as you see it. This way you never give trash the ability to accumulate. As a lease pumper, you should be able to drive over your entire lease without seeing a single piece of trash.


Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #10: Vista of Lease

The Vista of Lease is what refers to the general appearance of the equipment, and everything else on the lease. This includes: idle equipment, junk, pipe racks, scrap materials, and more. A lease pumper should keep in the habit of arranging everything in a neat and orderly fashion, with the pipe racks arranged in order. Proper protocols for materials should be utilized. This includes:

  • Using Available Stripping to Separate Layers of Pipe in Neat Stacks
  • Storing Equipment and Chemical Barrels in Aligned Rows
  • And More

Keeping things clean and organized is contagious. If you do it, so will the other workers; and the same goes for the reverse. If the site is constantly unorganized or chaotic, the workers will continue to follow those methods. Remember, a well organized stored equipment area is not unexpected benefit. It is a result of a well operated and organized company or group of people.


Oil & Gas Lease Expense Maintenance #11: Weeds

All equipment and stored materials should be clear of vegetation and weeds. Not only is this a fire hazard; but it can also increase rust or corrosion in the metal, cover up holes or other dangers, collect trash, and/or provide a refuge for small animals and/or snakes. Therefore, excessive vegetation should be addressed immediately by the lease pumper. This ensures the excess is always cleared away and trimmed back.

Is your appetite for oil & gas operating knowledge insatiable like ours? 😀 If so, check out this related article, The Lease Pumper’s Cheat Sheet to Oilfield Emergencies – it will surely pump you up!!!

I have to admit one of my favorite perks of working as a lease pumper is how my job is rarely the same from day to day. Equipment status, the level of production, the conditions of the maintenance schedule, and a variety of other factors will determine the specific tasks you are required to do; and the tasks you do today, may not be the tasks required of you tomorrow.

Lease Pumper

Other times, you may repeat these tasks from day-to-day, but complete them in very different manners. For instance, you might: use different equipment, perform the tasks to distinct degrees, or travel to a wide range of location options.

On the other hand, you also need to be prepared for the unexpected; because at some point, you will encounter an unanticipated event. This could be: a leaking pipe, a locked up engine, livestock in the overflow pit, or any number of other surprises. Depending upon the severity of the emergency will determine exactly what you need to do. To help prepare you for your next emergency, remember these important facts.

Lease Pumper

What Is An Emergency?

In short, an emergency is an event causing an undesirable result or one that has the potential to cause an undesirable result if the proper steps aren’t taken to correct it. As a lease pumper, you have to be prepared. You aren’t given a heads up that an emergency will present itself. It can happen any time, anywhere; from driving on the highway to or from the leases, to situations that arise on-site. (That reminds us, check out this blog post on Oilfield App for lightning strikes…)

For example, you could be on location when a large hole opens on the side of a stock tank causing oil to pour out onto the ground, forming a small pond. During this type of event, a lease pumper should immediately begin to circulate the oil out of the leaking vessel before switching the tank. Once completed, you should then call the office to request a vacuum truck to your location to pickup whatever oil can be salvaged. Remember time is money; and in order to keep the loss to a minimum, it requires quick action.

Prepare Yourself In Advance

During an emergency it’s too late to call your boss to find out what you should do; and in most cases, time does not permit you the luxury of contacting someone, researching for a specific number, or the person you want to contact cannot be reached. Thankfully, you can easily prepare for this by planning ahead with your supervisor. This will allow you to the correct procedures for you to follow when the circumstances arise. For instance, having the name of an approved vacuum truck operator will provide you with an extra course of action during the event you’re unable to get in contact with anyone at the office.

The list of potential emergencies you can come across is extensive; and often times, no one will even be aware there is an issue until a lease pumper arrives. Therefore, it is imperative to always have any and all relevant numbers required available in advance. This could include the electric company to report electrical issues, or the proper numbers for medical personnel for when there are life threatening situations.

More often than not, when performing these routine tasks or dealing with whatever emergency has occurred, you will be required to contact someone either by radio or telephone. If for any reason the lease pumper does not have a two-way radio or mobile telephone, then use the nearest phone. This could be from a farm, a nearby town, a ranch house, or another worker with a mobile communications device. This is also why a lease pumper should become familiar with the local area surrounding each lease. Get to know the people who live by. In order to be adequately prepared, a lease pumper should have at least two or more response options (and the information necessary to carry them out) planned out.

Typically, phone books are not available while on a lease site; and to be fair, it is highly unlikely a lease pumper will be able to memorize every resource they may have to be contact. (And that doesn’t even include the one or two backups for if the first choice cannot be reached.) For that reason, every lease pumper should create and store all the necessary information required for them to keep at hand; as well as what the lease pumper does and does not have the authority to do. This emergency information should include:

Emergency Telephone Numbers

As a lease pumper you may have to contact a variety of people and/or agencies while on the job, which you can easily keep track of by creating a spreadsheet or form and keeping it somewhere within your vehicle. However, since lease pumpers generally work at multiple sites spread over a large area, it is often best to have a separate form created for each of your different leases. For example, while two lease sites may be within 5 miles of one another; they could still be within different law enforcement jurisdictions or different fire districts. Keep in mind some small towns and rural areas are not equipped with 911 emergency services. Therefore, it is vital for a lease pumper to know what specific phone numbers to call during an emergency.

Typical emergency numbers should include the city and telephone number for the following:

  • Regular Lease Pumpers
  • Relief Lease Pumpers
  • Nearest Telephone (Name of Owner or Business and Location)
  • National General Emergency Number (Typically 911)
  • State Highway Patrol
  • City Police
  • Fire Department
  • At least 2 Hospitals and/or Paramedics
  • Federal Game and Fish Department
  • State Game and Fish Department
  • Forest Department
  • Environmental Department
  • And any other relevant numbers


Company and Personnel Communications

Another common list of contacts that is convenient to have on file is other company personnel and others who may work on the lease (ex. relief personnel). Even if the lease pumper is familiar with this information, they should always keep a comprehensive list for when they are: ill, on vacation, off duty, have a family emergency, or in case the information is needed by someone (ex. relief personnel) who is not familiar with the company, employees, or the staffing structure. The exact specifics required can vary from one operation to another, but each contact list should contain anyone who may be of value on the job or as a relief person, such as: 

  • Regular Lease Pumpers
  • Relief Lease Pumpers
  • Lease Operators
  • Contract Pumpers
  • And More


Field Support Services Telephone Numbers

Whether you’re a seasoned vet or just starting your career as a lease pumper, times will occur when you have to buy supplies, or have maintenance performed you are not qualified or equipped to handle. Whatever the case, you will benefit from having contact information (including the physical address for those you need to get pickups from) on specific suppliers and service providers. A sample of these suppliers and support service resources can include:

    • Pipeline or Oil Transport Company
    • Water Transport Company
    • Rural Electrical Company
    • Electrical Services or Repairs
    • Electrical Motor Rewinding
    • Hot Oiling Services
    • Chemical Suppliers
    • Oilfield Supplies (multiple)
    • Maintenance and Construction
    • Wesll Servicing and Workover
    • Downhole Pump Repairs (multiple)
    • Engine and Mechanical (multiple)
    • Weekend or Emergency Numbers


Lease Information

Lease site locations are often in remote or hard to find areas. To help prevent confusion or problems reaching the site, make sure to always carry the appropriate details about each lease location. This information can be helpful for relief personnel, service providers, or any others unfamiliar with how to reach the site. This can also be helpful in finding alternate routes for the site for when normal routes are closed for weather or road construction. The goal is to provide accurate descriptions on how to reach the lease. This can include:

    • Descriptions of Cattle Guards
    • Distances
    • Highway Numbers
    • Highway Signs
    • Mile Markers
    • Road Divisions
    • Town Names
    • And/or Any Other Distinguishable Landmarks to Help Identify the Route

Is your appetite for oil & gas operating knowledge insatiable like ours? 😀 If so, check out this related article, 11 Important Oil & Gas Lease Operating Maintenance Expenses (that should never go overlooked…) – it will surely pump you up!!!

Okay so, when I was a soldier in the Army and I had to finally sit down to do the scads of paperwork required to do the job I was doing – you know material data sheets, truck maintenance schedules called 24s, training schedules, you get the picture – awful stuff, I would do almost anything to avoid it.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I took all this very seriously.

First, I’d get myself all situated in my squeaky Army chair, play on the computer, reorganize my desk, steal the stapler from my boss, Master Sgt. Hefner’s desk (this drove him nuts), chase an annoying fly down to the supply section with a rolled up field manual and even make some coffee.

Then I take a look at the clock and then it’s chow time (this is what we call lunch in the Army). I’ll do it after chow, right?

After chow, the Colonel calls me into his office and asks me, “Where are this month’s 24s?” The Colonel has cold, steely blue eyes and they scare me. I do this thing he calls “vapor-locking”. Then he yells at me. “Sgt. Van Horn, don’t vapor lock!” I say, “Yes sir! Just getting them done sir,” I chirp as a bead of sweat rolls down my forehead.

Now, it’s important to understand that unless you drew parts to fix a vehicle, a DA form 2404 can be what we in the Army called pencil – well, you know – whipped. But the mileage form, which goes along with the 24s our command expected, not so much. Each month I told myself, “I’m going to start keeping that every day.”

Yeah right, whatever.

It was always easier in the moment to jot something down on a little scrap of paper and tell myself, “I’ll transfer it later to the book”.  Of course, then there are 20 scraps of paper and you really can’t find them all and then it’s down to creatively filling out those forms. That should make you tax payers so proud.

Okay, so it was like 1999 and time for my yearly evaluation known as an Enlisted Evaluation Report (EER). I stand before 1stSgt. Moreno’s desk as he taps his pen on the place where I signed the form acknowledging that I had seen and agreed with the evaluation. In the Army, a perfect EER was when you got all 5s. That meant you walked on water.

Most of us got one or two 4s and mostly 3s because…well, it’s the Army and no one is that good. There I stood looking at my nearly perfect evaluation with mostly 4s but one box that was marked with an evil 2.

Getting a 2 is like getting a needs improvement in the first grade. There was a comment in the box explaining the poor mark. It read, “Sgt. Van Horn is exemplary, heroic even in the field. But when it comes to completing assigned paperwork, she falls seriously short of the military’s standards.”

I’d like to tell you I have changed. That, when I got into the oilfield, that somehow I became all that I can be, so-to-speak, regarding paperwork. Nope.

This week enjoy: “Panic mode” – stories about real pumpers, including me who put off till tomorrow what we should have done yesterday.

Panic Mode

I had kind of decided to go through the Lease Pumper’s Handbook chapter by chapter. But in the first chapters, aside from mentioning that you will need a pencil and an ability to record production on each well location, it really doesn’t talk specifically about this most time consuming of all tasks you will perform daily. I felt this was important to sort of bring up, you know. Call your attention to it.

So I’ll just say it: You should do books daily and frankly moment by moment if you can. If you are a company pumper it is likely the company will expect your books from the previous day to be completed by sometime the next morning. So you need to leave enough time in your workday to make sure this is done or get to work a little early to get them completed the next morning if that is permitted.

But contract pumpers often wait and do their books at the end of the month, which I have a tendency to do when performing services on contract wells. To be clear again…it’s not because this is better, it’s because I can and there are parts of me that really aren’t very disciplined. I know, this probably surprises you.

I know one former pumper, let’s call him “Jeff Jones” who eventually was released to find his happiness somewhere else because he simply could not force himself to do his books and then when he finally did, he turned in numbers that did not add up to a little system run by gas collection companies called integration. Ahhhh, the joys of integration…

Once integration numbers are reported from gas collection companies straight to the desk of none other than your boss, he/she has a pretty good idea of what you have been up to all month long. If you are 30 or 50 MCF off for the month you will be fine. Anyone can miss it by that much.

But this fellow Jeff; well, he was 963 MCF off on one of his wells for the month and the rest weren’t too all-fired better. It became clear that he was performing his well checks by what we affectionately refer to as the “boiler house” guessing method.

Pumper Panic Onset / "Boiler House" guessing method...

“Boiler House” guessing method…

Now, we knew this guy was, indeed, going to his wells. We asked him, what’s up. He said he would try and remember the numbers and then he’d mean to write them down but sometimes he’d forget because, maybe the phone would ring when he got in his truck or whatever. Then he’d forget.

Before long, he’d forgotten to write down 30 days of those numbers and he’d write what he could remember.

Last I heard Jeff is in California now. I think he’s a model. No kidding.

And then there is my best friend. She is a much respected lease operator in the Panhandle and has been for 35 years. We call her Evi-Jen Donkey Hair. That’s her nickname because…well that’s another story. Evi-Jen Donkey Hair does her books monthly between the 1st and the 15th .

It is a monthly bitch-fest between us when instead of going to meet our friends at the neighborhood pub for a burger and beer, we are at home type, type, typing out these tedious, oh so awful books. We get on the phone together because, well, we have no other friends and we have these weird conversations that go like this;

Me: “Did you see the…uh,” Tap, tap, tap, tap tap tap.

Her: “Yeah. I uh…” tap, tap, tap tap, tap. “Got there late though and missed the…uh…Dammit now, where’s that run ticket?”

Me: “What I heard was that Stacy was there and she, uh… Uh, hang on a second.”Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. “I don’t know, did you leave it in your truck?”

Her: “You say she got in your truck?”

Me: “No! Your run ticket. Did you leave your run ticket in your truck?” Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.” There is complete silence on the line for more than one minute – Just the steady taping on computer keys.

Her: “What run ticket?”

Me: “The one you lost.”

Her: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Me: “Me neither.”

So this brings me to what I really want to talk about.

I know, finally, right!?

There are all kinds of production information gathering systems out there. You can work from a simple paper book system where you fax the numbers at the end of each day to systems like Field Direct.

Field Direct is a computer program that has already established coefficients set up into it so that it “knows” that the oil stock tank you have is an upright 300 barrel tank and so when you add the gauge levels every day it automatically calculates how much oil in barrels you made overnight or from week to week if it is a minimally producing well. But the truth is Field Direct is really anything but direct. The system does freaky things if you have to show negative oil or fluids and it takes an administrator to un-screw it up.

Now, I don’t know much about Greasebook because we didn’t have anything that cool where I come from and frankly I really am not paid to advertise their stuff. But the reality is, if you can use a phone, which you already pretty much have stuck to your face all day to do your job, I’m thinkin’ it’s a win-win right?

Add to that, I know that it enables you to capture and keep track of those tickets which goes a long way into making things simpler and cutting down on the nonsense conversations that seem to define my conversations with my best friend.

So, the moral of the story is, don’t procrastinate. The time to change is now. Not when you are my age and things are pretty, well, static.

And you are pumpers, so you know what static means.

– Rachael Van Horn

Okay so, not too long ago, I was restarting a Fairbanks 503 after it had gone down overnight. Anyone who has performed this function on these very solid old engines also knows that if they are really relics, they are super hard to restart. Some people find them easier to kick start and I have done that once. But those huge bull wheels require a lot of strength and I usually used my foot. When it caught, well it would give a little kick and if you weren’t just really fast, it could grab your foot, which would almost certainly constitute a true emergency. So I avoided this since after all, if that wheel grabbed my foot, it would be the kind of emergency that was really, no longer an emergency if you know what I mean.

When reviewing an article here at GreaseBook, don’t mistake what you are doing here as work. No way is this work.

This week enjoy; “Facing your enemies”, a real life story about someone who will make you see your idea of what is an emergency differently.

Facing Your Enemies

In Chapter 2 B-1 of the Lease Pumper’s Handbook the Marginal Well Commission talks about what constitutes an emergency and who and when to call someone. I like this discussion because if there was anything in training that was really not covered it was when to call your company man and report something. Those guys can get bristly when they get bothered too much. But fail to call them just once when a well explodes and boy they never forgive you. Nevertheless, I suggest you read this chapter very carefully. Besides safety, I can’t think of anything more important.

In the handbook it states an emergency is anything that is happening that will cause an undesired outcome or result. This is pretty broad language. But it’s a good start. If I have learned anything in the oilfield it is this; there is no end and I mean truly no end to the various and sundry things that can happen in this industry.

If it can pop off, crack open, freeze shut, work when it’s not supposed to, stop working at the most inopportune time and implode or explode, it is in the oilfield. And that doesn’t even begin to consider the sometimes amazingly stupid things us pumpers decide to do because “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

It was a beautiful clear Sunday in April. I had just started my new job at Sheridan Production. I had probably been there about two weeks. With an exemplary background, I had been entrusted with a brand new pickup. It was nice, shiny and pretty plush for a pumper. I was in the vast expanses of Beaver County checking a well there that is at the very least 40 minutes from our office in Laverne.

I was getting gas chart readings when I noticed a hissing sound and realized a Kimray back pressure control valve was ruptured and leaking quite a bit of gas over by the separator. Now, as I write this I am still wondering in the back of my mind why I felt this was so important. I think it was my background in the field of CO2 flood pumping where every leaking valve was followed up in about five minutes with a major explosion or rupture. More on that later…

You add that experience to the fact that I spent four tours in a war zone where quick action was key to survival and I guess I have my answer. At any rate, I sort of panicked. Not a lot but had this general feeling that I needed to hurry over there in my truck and check it out and maybe shut an inlet valve to it. So I jumped in Shiny, my new truck, backed up (see, this is where things turn ugly) and backed into a fence post, crushing the driver’s side rear panel.


Okay. So this is an emergency…kind of.

After a level of cussing that later that week had me in confession with my priest for about 20 minutes, I got out of the truck and took a look. I knew I had to call my boss and yet I would have rather had a root-canal. It was our policy that any accident had to be reported. So I made the call.

He was all suited up on this gorgeous day to go for a motorcycle ride with his wife. He was not happy. The truth is, I don’t think he ever really forgave me for that. It started our relationship off badly and it sort of just always had this black cloud hanging over it from that point. He did though, tell me once that I was the best lease operator he had and that felt good but he still was mad about that truck.

In hindsight, none of that is really important. It was painful yes. But not important. What’s important is that we all need to take one extra second to understand what is an emergency and requires our quick action and what does not.

That leaking Kimray in no way deserved any quick action from me.  

My tiny emergencies though, were really basically nothing compared to my father’s comrade in arms and longtime friend and Medal of Honor winner Colonel Leo Thorsness. You can read about in his book “Surviving Hell”. Now that…that is a real emergency.

You see, he was in Vietnam at the same time my father was. The two were doing highly risky flights in F-105s over North Vietnam. On April 30th 1967 my dad’s friend was shot down over North Vietnam. He ejected at over 600 miles per hour and then was shot at by the enemy as his parachute carried him toward his captors. He spent more than six long, horrible years as a prisoner of war. He was tortured because he refused to give in to the enemy and pass them the information they wanted. Leo is a friend of my fathers and as such he is a good friend of mine.

In fact, in 1967 through 1974 when he came back home to his wife Gaylee, I wore his POW bracelet, which was a simple band of pot metal with his name and his dates of capture inscribed upon it – a thing probably long forgotten by most people. I wore it through college and even though he was back, I wore it well after having my daughter Johnna so that when I found myself in something I thought was an emergency, like waiting at a red light that was taking too long, I would remember what a real emergency looked like. But more about Leo in a bit.

Right now, let’s talk about some basic concepts you will need to know when deciding whether or not to call your boss to an “emergency” on a Sunday in the three minutes before he is about to get on his Harley and go for a much needed ride.  

When I started full time in the oilfield it was on a CO2 and water flood project. This is what is known in the Pumper’s handbook as “enhanced production” and it is a much later chapter. But basically there are a lot of oil reserves that exist in what used to be thought of as old, “played out” formations. The oil hides between the fissures and rocks in a formation but is no longer naturally flowing into the casings of conventional wells. By using pressurized water and CO2 to wash through that formation, that water and CO2 washes those reserves out of those little fissures and rocks so that the oil flows to the well casing where your artificial lift system (either a pumping unit or submersible) picks it up. So, what looks like a regular pumping unit to a passerby is in no way normal. These wells function with tubing pressure that is much higher than conventional wells and so everything you do is different and chock full of possible emergencies.

For instance, when stuffing box rubbers give way on these pumping units, the effect is a geyser of oil shooting 10 to 15 feet into the air. Not an emergency. You just walk over there, release the back pressure on the tubing, call a truck to hook up to your well (you have to do this on most CO2 wells to change stuffing box rubbers because there is no such thing as blowing that well down) and change out the rubbers.

It is important for you as a pumper to be brave and know when to make what we in the military refer to as a command decision and then be willing to take any possible heat there might be coming your way for it when you do. This was one of those times. Does it cost money to call a truck? Yes it does. But it is infinitely worse to have to report an oil spill.

So here is my advice: Any emergency that might call into question your character, like my truck accident, you need to call it in.

If there is a leaking this or that, or a tiny explosion, deal with it first and then call it in.  For instance, if you have allowed a tank to run over, which is almost a firing offense in this industry, call a truck, get it cleaned up and then call in your mistake. Do not wait to get a hold of someone. Get the oil off the ground. You’re in trouble anyway. You might as well be in trouble for the clean up too. It’s the right thing to do.

Then there are the big emergencies. So again, there I was, driving onto my lease in the CO2 flood at Perryton, Texas. I round the corner to see a 16 inch column of oil shooting 30 feet in the air. The three phase, horizontal separator has been blown at least 20 feet off its foundation and I immediately know what has happened. I’m poised to jump into action and grab my 36 inch pipe wrench to shut down the well head.  But before I do, I call my boss because this is clearly going to place me in grave danger and I let him know what I am doing and what has happened. “Chad,” I said. “Something very bad has happened at the #3183. Get over here. I am shutting it in.”

For weeks before this took place I had noticed that the wellhead (all the tubing and casing topside) was regularly frozen with like three inches of ice covering it. I told my bosses, “Look, I think this CO2 injection well is directly communicating with this wellhead and I worry about metal fatigue on that wellhead from it being frozen so much.” My bosses had just spent hundreds of thousands refracking that well and did not want to hear this. They said, give it a little time. But with like 2,000 pounds on the tubing, I worried every time I went near that wellhead and cared for all the equipment on that lease. I am just glad that I wasn’t standing next to that separator when it blew. But on this day I had to approach that wellhead that had ALREADY shown its ugly side and force the valve shut. I was not at all sure it wouldn’t just take me with it.  

In the oilfield emergencies are going to happen every single day. Most of them will be little ones. But if there is one character trait that is needed in a pumper it is the one that allows you to nimbly judge which of these you can and need to handle first and then report or which ones you need to immediately report and then do what you can to contain.

And that is what my friend Leo Thorsness did when he punched out of his F-105 over North Vietnam that day in April, 1967.

“It was a clear beautiful day,” he told me on the phone recently about that fateful day that he was shot down in his F-105 Thunderchief. It would be the beginning to 6 years as a POW.

But how he handled those moments up to his capture and his ability to make decisions moment to moment saved his life. Here is a short excerpt from his book “Surviving Hell”;

“Harry and I knew the maximum ejection speed for an F-105 was 525 knots. But we knew of pilots whose Thuds had exploded while taking the time to slow down. We had decided that if we were ever hit we would eject immediately.


I shouted “GO!” Harry knew that if he hesitated to blow his canopy and I ejected before he did, my rocket would throw fire into the rear cockpit. He said “Shit!” and, as I heard his canopy blow and seat eject, I pulled my handle.

Vivid in my mind to this day is the feeling of catapulting into the slipstream doing nearly 600 knots (690 mph). My helmet ripped off, my body felt as though it had been flung against a wall, and my legs flailed outward. Two seconds later, the chute opened, violently yanking me upward. My body rotated a couple of times then settled into a float.

Falling down, I tried to take stock. When I cleared the cockpit, the wind had apparently caught my legs and forced my knees straight sideways at a 90 degree angle. My boots were still on but the little pencil sized zipper pockets on my sleeves were ripped away. As I looked up at my chute, I saw that at least a quarter of the panels were ripped open: I would be slamming into the ground faster than normal – with destroyed knees.

One bright spot: a mile or two to the east I could see Harry’s chute. I did not know at the time but my wingman Bob Abbott had also been shot down by an Atoll…

We had ejected at about 10,000 feet and so had several minutes to float before we hit. Many thoughts I had then are still crystal clear today. I thought about my wife Gaylee and our daughter Dawn who were at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada…I felt devastated for what my wife and daughter might be forced to endure. My floating down thought was: “If I’m killed when I hit the ground, will they ever find out?” I felt guilty, too: reasoning that I had failed them. I was putting them in what could be years of limbo…

I was still 2,000 to 3,000 feet in the air when something in a small darker area in the jungle caught my eye. I concentrated and realized it was muzzle flashes. They were shooting at me!

As I entered the canopy of jungle, I remembered to cross my legs. Branches banged and slapped as I readied to hit hard on bad knees. Suddenly I stopped, bounced a bit and hug still. I looked up and saw that my chute had hung on a dead branch. I was maybe 40 feet off the ground. Just to my right was a small stand of bamboo. I swung to reach for the stalk, thinking to grab hold, undo my chute release and shinny down to the ground. But I couldn’t get a grip on the bamboo. We carried a one-inch-wide nylon lanyard in our g-suit for just this situation. I finally got it out, tied it above the quick releases. I used 10 valuable minutes getting to the ground.

I was part way up the side of a mountain. My knees buckled each time I tried to stand. Thuds continued to fly over my downed position but I doubted they could see me through the trees. I tried one more call on my emergency radio – both my transmission and theirs were so garbled I could not make out words.

I heard voices below me. I crawled on all fours up the hill. The going was slow; they were gaining on me. A Thud flew over and the bad guys took cover. I crawled faster, hoping to find a clearing before they found me. If they had an opening, the Thuds could strafe the jungle around me, hold back the bad guys and maybe, just maybe, a chopper would show up to pluck me out.

But there was no opening and no helicopter. Knowing I was theirs, the North Vietnamese hollered excitedly when they drew near. I rolled on my back to face them.”

– Rachael Van Horn

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Okay so, there are just some things in the oilfield that are known by all of us, but that we really don’t talk about.

One of those things is the silent rule that after a workover rig has been up on one of your wells, you step carefully around your equipment and stock tanks. New pumpers have discovered this sometimes in a traumatizing way when, in a moment where they really need a rag and realize they used their last one on the last well, they spot one on the ground…you know, over there by the meter house. So they run over and snatch it up and attempt to use it only to find that, uh, it’s been already used and not on any equipment owned by the company, if you know what I mean.

You see, when I was starting in the oilfield, there was no guidebook. I would have given a month’s salary for something like The Lease Pumper’s Handbook. I thought I would take this book on chapter by chapter and discuss a little of it with you every couple of weeks about what is contained in each chapter.

This week we’ll talk about Chapter 1 –Responsibilities of Employee and Employer.

If you don’t read any other chapter, make certain you read this one. It contains at lot of the information that you would think someone would tell you but don’t count on it and here is why:

While this might sound a little negative, there is a very competitive culture that exists in the oilfield. This is true in both contract lease operating and what we call company pumping.

Don’t get me wrong; if I needed help really bad, the guys I worked with would mostly do the right thing and come give me a hand. But I could be sure that when they got together later, they would be discussing how stupid I was over coffee.

Anyone in the business very long learns this reality. It doesn’t mean they’re not your friends. It just is what it is and the sooner you accept that and don’t let it distract you, the happier a pumper you will be.

But when you are the FNG (I’ll let you figure that acronym out but the last two words are ‘New’ and ‘Guy’) it can be pretty uncomfortable.  There is a culture among us pumpers to let you squirm instead of telling you how to do something.

So, often other experienced pumpers will make a guy who asks a lot of questions feel dumb and eventually the guy gets the score and doesn’t ask anyone for any help on anything. This is especially true for company pumpers.

Frankly, it is one of the most dangerous aspects of the oilfield social culture and I still work hard to end it. I have looked into statistics on this tendency and found it to be responsible for up to 42 percent of accidents.

Nevertheless, when I was new…I suffered from this kind of culture and had it not been for my best friend, a 35 year veteran pumper Evelyn Dixon, I could have not only failed but been badly injured.

Evelyn served as my personal “Lease Pumper’s Handbook”.

So, Chapter 1 can help you past some of the most basic questions like who pays for supplies? What all are you supposed to do when you get to each lease? Who buys the pencils? What tools you will need to be successful out there. Anyhoo, read it you will be glad you did.

It can be a mine field out there!

So, back to my first and only lesson about being extra careful after workover rigs have been up on my wells. You see, some companies graciously allow you to take your dog along with you when you are pumping.

This privilege was so high on my list of benefits that they probably could have paid me $1 less per hour than they guys and I would have been happy about it. My dog Nipper was a Cairn terrier – you know, think Toto in the Wizard of Oz.

So she had this really long, wiry hair. She was a wheaten color, so her hair was really blondish. At every lease I operated, Nipper jumped out of my pickup and ran around the lease looking for rabbits to scare up and basically just living a really good life because she got to go all the time. She loved it and it helped me because my days as pumper are long and I am often in remote locations for long periods of time.

It was a Monday and my boss had told me that they had a rig on one of my wells over the weekend and that it was back up and running, but that I should do a report on it right away when I got out to the field.

So I pull up and it’s still pretty cool out, like 45 degrees and Nipper is raring to go. I checked everything out and called Nipper and here she came bounding toward me as fast as she could.

I really wasn’t looking at her, I was just holding the pickup door open so she could get in. And, she jumped into the seat of my pickup covered from her wiry little head to her wiry haired little tail in fairly fresh human poo. I mean, when she decided to roll in this, she took her job very seriously and it was caked even on her underbelly.

oilfiled pumper rules

Now, this dog was not experienced with riding in the back of a pickup and worse, mine was a flatbed. I was about five miles from our central stock tank battery, where I knew I could find a water hose. But I didn’t know how I was going to get her there without the risk of her jumping off the flatbed and hurting herself or what seemed worse at the moment, having her in the cab of my truck.

Times like this are when you are really glad that you supplied yourself with a box of rags and plenty of disposable gloves, something I never leave without now. So I started trying to clean off as much as I could with rags. I then found a piece of wire and used that as a “leash” of sorts and tied her to the headache rack so she couldn’t fall of the pickup and then I drove to a water hose. It was a cold bath, but we managed.

Lesson learned. I now was firmly in possession of that bit of knowledge about some of the more basic things one must consider after other personnel have spent a couple of days and nights on one of your wells. And now, you know it too!

Remember this; all wells are snitches

Okay, so as a pumper, you get to choose what kind of pumper you will be. In Chapter 1 of the Lease Pumper’s Handbook there is a part that talks about honesty. The section covers the importance of correct information being recorded onto your daily books and other basic truths that need to be told; even when you don’t want to.

For a new pumper, this may seem simple. Yet when you get out there you will eventually be faced with a serious mistake and you will likely be tempted to cover it up. I implore you, please do not do this. Obviously, in the first place, it can be dangerous. If you have shut something off that was supposed to be on for instance, and someone comes behind you to work on the well and you don’t tell the truth, it can hurt someone in some cases.

I often have said the oilfield offers more opportunities for the average field worker to lie than any other industry I have seen. So, if you got stuck on a well that was not operating properly on a day and didn’t make it to some of your other wells, tell them that. No, I can assure you it will not be popular. But tell them anyway. Because there is another ugly truth about the oilfield and that is, if you lie, your wells will tell on you – without fail, they will reveal your mistakes and lies and I swear to you, you will think the horse’s head is laughing at you.

Perhaps the most obvious of these examples happened to one of my fellow pumpers; let’s call him Kyle. Kyle was young. His father was a resounding success in the oilfield and owned a business in the industry in a nearby town. But Kyle just didn’t have the drive his father had. So, it wasn’t four weeks after we had hired him and we began noticing that Kyle was completing his pumping days far, far sooner than we all did.

That said, Kyle never seemed to have a well go down or one that was not producing. His books were perfect. If a well was supposed to usually make 35 mcf of gas, by golly it made 35 mcf of gas.

As many pumpers know, and so did Kyle, along with our digital readout meters, some wells also still used paper charts. You know the ones – they show every minute of activity with a red pen that shows gas differential and a blue pen line that shows static pressure. The paper chart is something I always check because I know their proclivity to write a friggin novel about everything you’ve ever done wrong.

And…these eight day charts, well, you have to remember to change on the 1st, 9th, 17th and 25th.

But see, Kyle didn’t understand the significance of those charts because he was new. So after at least 7 days of skipping a certain well, he went by to pick up the chart and found that the day after he had changed the chart, everything stopped.

The chart was still moving but the needle showed zero gas had been sold from that lease for six full days. Being so young, Kyle didn’t even really understand the marks on the chart and so happily handed it in and then pencil-whipped yet another day into his fraudulent books. Job well done, right.

Now, as you smart readers have already guessed, this did not jibe with his glowing reports on the well over the last several days. And those get sent to our corporate office daily. Those charts were laughing at Kyle.

Instead of learning from that mistake, Kyle just got a little better at covering his tracks until one day the boss called him around 3 p.m. and asked him, “Hey, have you been by the “Harper 3-1” yet today?” Kyle nimbly lied, because he had become quite comfortable lying and said “Yes” that he had been by the well.

The lease had a compressor on it and the boss said, “How’s that compressor running?” Again, Kyle lied and said, “Great, running really smooth.” The boss said, “Well, that’s funny because I’m standing right here with it and the supply gas has been turned off and according to the chart, it hasn’t sold gas in three days.”

Kyle didn’t make it in the business. I think the moral to the story is painfully clear. First, do your job. If you are a person who tends to shortcut things, just don’t get into the business. Second, if you forget to turn on or off a valve (you most certainly will make this mistake at some time in your career) just own up to it.

It you don’t, eventually your well will tell on you.

By Rachael Van Horn

AKA Wench with a Wrench

Okay so, when my dad starts a project, there is no lunch, no water, no anything until we have finished the job. I feel certain it is today, why I am always the last pumper in the field – and the dirtiest.

So anyway, it was a long time ago – a hot summer in Oklahoma and we had been suffering for some time without rain. I was about 16-years-old (I’m 54 now) and my dad woke me early on a Saturday morning. We were building fence.

On this day, we were digging post holes with a two-man auger he had proudly purchased at an estate sale. You know the kind; a man and a woman in this case, on each side of it holding it steady as it grinds its way into the ground.

So the digging began and the work was grueling. The Oklahoma red dirt was packed hard – I mean land a C-5 cargo jet on it hard or tear up a Tri Cone Drill Bit hard. You get the picture.

Anyway through the day, the holes were getting dug. However, I had noticed that when my dad stopped that auger he had to push a wrench that had a rubber handle on it onto the spark plug. I really hadn’t noticed it much up to about 4 p.m. I was hot, I was thinking about going out that night with my boyfriend Roger and I didn’t much care about how he had rigged that damned auger to stop.

And then it happened…

We had started on another hole – the last one for the day. The dirt seemed even harder and it just felt like that auger was spinning around, bouncing on concrete. All of a sudden, it hit a rock and bounced out of the hole.

It was still grinding full speed (the speed lever was also broken) and it started augering up my father’s leg. It was like a dragon chewing him up. I had to do something! I had to act! I just knew it was going to auger my father in half if I didn’t!

And so I did it. I just grabbed a hold of that spark plug with my whole hand. The current coursed through my hand and up to my shoulder. But that bit of insanity worked and the auger died.

I was bending over holding my arm and I looked up at my father, who was bleeding but not profusely. His plants were down around his ankles. He was wearing boxers with pink flamingos on a grey background. I’m sorry but I just can’t unsee that.

He pulled his pants up and laughed. I said, ‘Oh, you thought that was funny huh?”

He said, “You should have seen the look on your face when you grabbed that spark plug.”

I said, “Yeah, nice stop-switch dad. What’s wrong with it?”

He said, “I don’t know. It’s just broke.”

This week, in that wondermous blogosphere on, read and enjoy the “It’s Broke” edition – Great stories about people in the oilfield who found themselves with equipment they couldn’t diagnose, yet found work-arounds to keep it running.

Now, when Greasebook reached out to me and asked me write some material for pumper and oilfield executives, they thought it’d be a wonderful idea to work and write from the “Lease Pumper’s Handbook” – expanding on the topics contained within the text and throwing in color and insight where necessary.

The handbook is a guide put together by the Oklahoma Marginal Well Commission offering great guidance on all things pumper.

I mean, this thing even includes some of the things that are never really talked about, but are sort of pumper etiquette items that, if not handled properly can get you blackballed by other pumpers. It’s a must read.

So for you pumpers who find yourselves wondering why your gas well made zero even though your plunger seemed to be coming up all night, give it a read. It will help you with some possible causes. It includes everything from pencils to pumping units in there.

Through the next several blogs, I will be dragging some fun subjects out of that Lease Pumper’s Handbook and sharing some zany and I hope enjoyable stories with you that almost certainly would not have happened if we would have had the handbook.


So, this first story is about one of my pumping units with a Fairbanks 503 engine on it.

While there is a ton of great information in the Lease Pumper’s Handbook, this is one of the painful lessons I had to learn without a handbook. There are no individual instructions anywhere on how to run pumping unit engines. They are like women, I am told – all pretty temperamental if you don’t take some time with them.

The Fairbanks 503 is an ancient, slave master. It can be a terribly hearty engine though, that can take a lot of abuse and still run. And that is why it is still in the field today. But if you let it go down, even for one minute, you will live to rue the day.

Me in front of an old, Fairbanks 503 "slave master" ;-)

Me in front of an old, Fairbanks 503 “slave master” 😉

On this particular engine, the clutch to engage the pumping unit, once you have the engine good and going, is a round wheel about 12 or so inches in diameter. You have to grab that wheel and push the clutch plate straight forward away from your chest to engage this clutch. It can really test your manhood, especially when you’re a woman.

Most other clutches, such as on the Continental 106s and 96s as well as the Ajax, the clutch handle is just that; a long handle that sticks up where you can grab it and apply some leverage to the situation.

On this particular Fairbanks 503, the clutch was really tight. I mean this thing felt like you were trying to jab two inch pegs in one inch holes. One day, after fighting to start this bad girl for about 30 minutes, I finally got her going again and was pretty tired from physically kick starting that engine. (Did I mention how huge they are?) I walked around to the clutch wheel and gave it a shove. The pumping unit weights started going and all appeared ok, but I knew it wasn’t. I could smell the clutch plate burning.

I’m really tired, right? And so I put all of my upper body strength into this and give it a mighty shove. Nope. Sweat is pouring down my face. I’m starting to lose my religion. I’m getting frustrated. I try again. Still no dice.

So now I’ve worked for 30 minutes getting the stubborn engine started and now it won’t matter if I cannot get this clutch pushed in because I can’t just leave an engine running without running the pumping unit.

Now, I know all the men are thinking, “Geesh, this is why women shouldn’t be in the oil field.”

Well, you aren’t alone. Because that is what my boss said when I called him and politely asked (this was a new well to me) if there was anything special about this clutch that I should maybe know. I won’t tell you how that conversation went.

So I admit, I went a little crazy after I got off the phone with him. I ran around the outside of the entire pumping unit screaming and yelling , shaking my fists to the heavens.

I came back to the spot, looked around to make sure no one had seen my lapse in sanity and focused all my attention on that clutch. I then played around with it for about two more minutes just looking at it and feeling of it gently – you know, getting to know it. And then I saw it.

I realized that it wanted me to snap it in at just the right place where the weights were on their way up. I snapped it right in. It did have a secret to it and I had figured it out.

Fast forward four weeks later. My boss had gone by to place a new rocker arm on the external valve on that engine. He restarted it and stood there on the phone before engaging the unit talking to me. He was pretty satisfied with himself and was going on about how he was pretty muchly all that was man.

He had “only called to let you know what I had done on the pumping unit just so you could mark it in you book.”

I said, “Roger that. Consider it marked.”

A full hour later, he called me. He was out of breath and sounding pretty disgusted.

“Is there something you can tell me about this clutch?”, he asked.

I smiled to myself. “Nope, you’ll just have to man up.”

He never did get that clutch in. I had to go back and put it in for him.

Aka, Wench with a Wrench
So were we!  So, we decided to do something about it and see how the folks here at GreaseBook might be able to help!
First a little background…
In May 2016, organizations like the National Stripper Well Association (NSWA) among others fought for an exemption of small producers from the effects of the new methane control rules, but in the issuance of the final rule, the exemption for low-producing wells was eliminated.
However, on June 3, EPA published its newest oil and natural gas production regulations – Subpart OOOOa (we found this a helpful summary when trying to understand both new and amended requirements for operators…)
This significant and radical change was unannounced for most producers, and they have been struggling to comply since the announcement.
We found there was also an EPA Regulatory Impact Analysis that stated that within 60 days, EPA would issue a “Small Entity Compliance Guide” to help stripper well producers comply with the rule.
Unfortunately, at the writing of this post, we are nearly 80 days from the May 12 announcement of the rule and 60 days from the June 3 Federal Register notice and the EPA implementation website contains no compliance guide. And, as unprepared as small producers were to be included in this rule, the EPA is as equally unprepared to give us guidance.
That said, last week the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers put together a informative webinar for members of their organization addressing rules and policy changes.
From what the Alliance states, the EPA’s new rule is directed at new, modified, and reconstructed sources, but the action also includes an Information Collection Request that the EPA will send to over 22,500 oil and gas companies to gather data on existing facility sources.
Now, enter Katie  Carmichael (Texas Alliance Public Affairs Consultant),
John Tintera (a regulatory expert, licensed geologist, and Executive VP of the Texas Alliance), Jim Standley (Policy Advisor at Texas Alliance of Energy Producers), Lee Fuller (President of Independent Petroleum Association of America), and Bill Stevens (Alliance Chief Lobbyist).
GreaseBook Sidenote: All info below has been transcribed for you. However, if you’d rather hear the meeting in it’s raw form, here you go!! (slides attached below 😉
Enter the Alliance
Katie: At this time, I’d like to briefly introduce our presenters. Joining us today is [inaudible 00:00:15] Executive Vice President John Tintera. Mr. Tintera has been former executive director at the Texas Railroad Commission and a certified geologist.
Also lending their expertise is [inaudible 00:00:27] senior policy advisor Jim Standley and [inaudible 00:00:28] Bill Stevens.


We’ll also hear from a special guest President of Independent Petroleum Association of America, Lee Fuller, who will provide update on methane rule litigation [inaudible 00:00:40] and commenting activity. Without further ado, I’ll turn it over to the experts.

Joe: Thank you, Katie. First, a little bit of background. I appreciate everybody joining today in our very first methane webinar with specific to the rule that has come out, the requirements associated with that. This is the information collection request that will form the basis for existing sources.

The rule that has come out recently was for new and reconstructed or recently constructed sources. So this rule, if we go from ICR ultimately to a rule that’s going to be a degree of magnitude more difficult to meet.


EPA wants a comprehensive methane regulation from all existing sources as part of [inaudible 00:01:38] initiatives. They want to know how the [inaudible 00:01:41] are configured, installed, being used, to monitor the level of staffing that’s needed, the time to that. John will take us through some of the detail data requirements here in a little bit. Your response to the ICR is mandatory, non-confidential, and maybe most importantly the information submitted can be used for enforcement purposes.

We’re on a short fuse for this. All of the comments have to be pulled together and submitted by August the 2nd. The actual process is that that’s the deadline to get it to the EPA, the EPA then has to take that and push it to the Office of Management and Budget for review because the impact is over $100 million. It will then be either commented on by the ONBA, or the EPA will respond to our comments and issue the rule.

So, the timing going forward after August 2nd is going to be a little bit up in the air but we’ll keep you informed.

Just to let you let you know, as Katie mentioned, we’re pleased and privileged to have Lee Fuller from IPAA leading a coalition of a group of industry associations on both the litigation of the rule and the submittal of the information collection request.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.33.19 PM

As a little more background, estimates in terms of what…and these all come from the EPA, in terms of their feeling of what it’s going to take to get this done. So, you got two phases that they’re looking at.

Phase one goes out to everyone. They’ve accounted for something on the order of 22,500 companies that are going to get the phase one data request. Phase two goes to their so-called statistically accurate sample of about approximately 3,500 companies. The coverage based on their estimates you can see is almost 700,000 wells, 5,000 gathering visiting stations, almost 700 processing facilities, and almost 230,000 hours to complete, with of the cost of completion at over $40 million.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.35.21 PM

We will be challenging all of that.

In some cases, historically, to EPA, has always presented estimates that benefit themselves and typically turn out to be very wrong. I’m going to turn it to John now to talk about… I’m sorry, let’s talk a little bit more about the ICR. No, I think it’s John’s turn right now.

John: Yes, this is Johnathan Detiera. And, Joe, thanks for the overview. Let me just recap a little bit of this.

What you have is a rule that’s in place, and that rule is in place to modify the civil use of new facilities that are coming online. It’s a very burdensome rule and it currently exists. [inaudible 00:04:45] have an information request. An information request we expect to have a short fuse. That will be even more information than what you would have to do to comply with the rule that’s currently in place. Then we fully expect that once the EPA gets this information they will then try to modify the rule that’s in place to capture every possible existing facility in extremely burdensome, regulatory effort that will provide the federal government more information on the oil field and oil field activities that any state currently possesses. So, the impact and significance of this could not be underestimated.

I’m going to take you deep into the womb of the information request. Now, I wanted to explain it to you using EPA’s own forums of what’s coming down the road that you will likely have to fill out and which we think is going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to try to stop or slow the EPA on this effort.

You can see there’s an instruction form in front of you in green. Please note that it’s got four steps to it, and the first two steps is what everybody’s going to have to fill out.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.36.31 PM


You’re going to have to have at step one, complete a parent company information. And that information is going to be for the highest level, the majority corporate owner. And then, in step two, you’re going to have to complete operator information. That operator information is going to be for the people that are actually managing, handling, or delegated by the regulations they work under as the operator of the facility.

So, if you’re a subsidiary of the parent company that you’re a subsidiary to, will be involved. If you’re a contract operator, you’re going to have to be working with your clients and your companies in order to make sure that the parent companies, etc., are fully represented.

I think we are going to see some confusion as people try to sort out what they need to do in step one and step two, but again, this is on track, and the common period is rapidly approaching. We will have comments.

I’d like you then go on to step three which begins the phase two process, which is going to be given to a statistically significant number of companies. We do not know how many that’s going to be, and I think that it will cover a high percentage of the number of oil and gas operators and companies that are currently in the business. This facility-level information request is going to be for all your facilities. I’ll be talking and showing you examples of [inaudible 00:07:29] facilities later. And then, you will have a step four. That’s where you have to complete and sign the acknowledgment sheet.

This is an example of the acknowledgment sheet that’s coming up.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.39.19 PM

Please notice that there’s going to be two boxes that are going to have to be checked, and then, a signature page. This could be considered an [inaudible 00:07:48] by some, which means that it’ll have some legal standing. It means that the people that check these boxes are going to be taking the responsibility that they have the authority to submit this information and that they know that this information is accurate and correct. We highlighted that in a previous conversation. I’d like to emphasize again the importance of making sure that the people that sign this page are well aware of the obligations that we’ll put them under with the federal government.

With [inaudible 00:08:22] we step into some of the facility-loaned information that they’re going to have in part two.


This is going to go through what the EPA is considering the omission source specific information. We’re going to have a series of slides that are going to have the EPA definitions. The facility itself is going to be focused on the overall facility and with some definitions of what the facility can entail. And at the same time, it’s going to also require detail-specific information of the equipment that’s on the lease.

For example, well sites and pads are going to be required to be included in the information, so the number of well sites, the number of pads that are associated with this are going to have to be tabulated and accounted for. You’re going to have to account for tanks and tankage. You’re going to have account for separators. At the same time, any [inaudible 00:09:22] devices are going to have be separately handled and counted for. You’re going to have acid gas removal units to be highlighted and identified and submitted. Dehydrators, you’re going to have to have all your compressors, including vapor-recovering units that are going to be highlighted. You’re going to have to have any leaks that are detected to be reported in this. If you do a blow-down in your facility, you’re also going to have to have blow-down information. Please note that flares, conductors, and vapor recovery units that are used at the facility are considered patrol devices. Those will also have to be handled and highlighted.

The way that you’re going to be relaying this information is through an Excel spreadsheet to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sidenote: Savvy Operators note that ALL information required by EPA today or in the future could easily be collected by the GreaseBook app…

You’re going to be having a facility ID number, a facility name and description, you’re going to have to [inaudible 00:10:16] and of course, most are no 24 hours, you have pumpers that go [inaudible 00:10:22]. The electrical status distance to the nearest field office, other distance information, what the type of production is, what the types of liquids is coming, the number of producing wells, the number of capped or abandoned wells that are in place. They are going to want hydro-fractioning information of the wells that have been hydro-fractioned.

NSPS OOOO and OOOOa Rules  Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.41.08 PM

You can see that this a long reach and extensive document of request that is going to be very repetitive to fill out, but it’s also going to have to be very specific because [inaudible 00:10:52] has all of these in common. Everyone one of them has some sort of variability associated with it.

In that regard, they have tried to indicate that there is an adjacency. So, definition, that will demonstrate how you can try to combine equipment into one portion [inaudible 00:11:10]. The simplest way of putting it in terms of equipment is within a quarter mile and connected, then you can comp that as a single source of determination. You give a series of factors that are include through there. We think that this is going to require some fairly diligent efforts by your [inaudible 00:11:31] and your mappers to make sure that the facilities, that they are positioning and locating the location of in the field far within this quarter mile [inaudible 00:11:41] that you have proper placement. So, this will require likely a new date gathering.

I’d like to now introduce Bill Stevens, our chief lobbyist for the alliance. Bill is going to go through how some of our political leadership and regulators are reacting to this. Mr. Stevens.

Bill: Thanks, John. Last month, the Railroad Commission issued a letter to the Texas Attorney General requesting his office to consider filing litigation related to the EPA’s methane rules.

As you can see from this press release, the Railroad commissioners have strong opinions regarding these new rules. The commissioner [inaudible 00:12:17] is saying, “These overbearing regulations accomplish nothing other than encumbering business, polluting our economy, and cutting jobs.”

Commissioner [00:12:25] points out that the methane emissions have dramatically fallen during recent energy growth thanks to technology and industry leadership on the issue.

And commissioner [inaudible 00:12:34] adds that the rules will harm Texas energy producers and accomplish very little in terms of protecting the environment.


In response to this letter from the Railroad Commission, the Texas Attorney General is preparing to file paperwork for a notion of reconsideration of the rule. It will be signed on behalf of the state of Texas, the Railroad Commission of Texas, and the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. The motion will be filed and should be placed [inaudible 00:13:02] the deadline of August 3rd. The alliance scene has worked with each of the commissioner’s offices, and both executive directors of the Railroad Commission and TCQ are urging them to act.

We appreciate the state and the leadership of these agencies and recognize the debilitating and unnecessary overreach by the federal government with regards to methane production.

Joe: That was very helpful, Bill. And I appreciate that analysis. Now, Jim Standley (Policy Advisor at Texas Alliance of Energy Producers), if you would introduce our guest speaker, Mr. Lee Fuller (executive vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America).

Jim: Will do. Was Mr. Fuller successful to get even on the phone?

John: Yes, he is.

Lee: Can you hear me?

Jim: Yeah, great.

Lee: I’m on the phone.

Jim: Yeah, I [inaudible 00:13:48]. I wasn’t, so I’m happy you were.

Joe: Jim, [inaudible 00:13:54].

Jim: With that, I would like to introduce Mr. Lee Fuller, President of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. And the gentleman that has the tip of the spear and leading the effort on the methane rule litigations and to stand the ICR combatting activities. And with that, I’d like to turn it to Lee.

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Lee: Well, thank you very much, I appreciate it. I clarify that I’m the Executive Vice President. My president of…Barry Russell is probably with…they want me to do that. But I do appreciate the chance to talk to you, to give you an update on where we are on a variety of these issues. I’m going to start with the methane rule litigation.

As the fires start to strive, there’s a very tight clock on actions to get a litigation initiated on that. We have to file by Tuesday of next week, August the 2nd. We have a group that’s been put together, [inaudible 00:14:54]. It’s probably generally [inaudible 00:14:59] the leader of the Texas Alliance as one of the many state associations that’s participating with us as well, along with some other national [inaudible 00:15:08] like the American Exploration & Production Council.

It’s basically a group of associations that are all representing independent producers. We wanted to begin the litigation and the reconsideration process where we would have an ability to be a clear and direct voice for independent producer issues since many of the challenges with these rules, they fall much more heavily on smaller operations than on larger ones. But nevertheless, everybody in the business is being affected by it.

The attorney that has worked with the independent producer group on fire regulations, notability, the subpart [inaudible 00:15:56] regulations that were released in 2012 and also worked with us on comments from [inaudible 00:16:03] array, and control technique guideline, [inaudible 00:16:09] of EPA as far as last year. Then they finalized the [inaudible 00:16:15] regulations in June of this year, where we’re now facing a litigation.

We’re looking at tracking two paths, with respect to [inaudible 00:16:25]. Why is the petition for review of the regulation itself, and the second is petitions for reconsideration of specific parts of it.

There’s a tactical question that we’re dealing with there and deciding what issues are abroad and speaking [inaudible 00:16:42] for litigation and what areas do we think we want to focus on trying to get EPA to address a reconsideration process.

Part of the tactical decision there is that if we pursue both at the same time on a particular issue, its opportunity to be litigated gets diminished because of a petition for reconsideration. And secondly, we expect to see a consolidation with other petitioners for review that can limit the size of the brief that can be filed. So, you don’t want to lose your ability to raise your issues as strongly as possible in the litigation by having too many issues limited by the number of words. It’s a legal dynamic in these court cases that we always have to grapple with.

So, the action we have to take by next week is really just to make the courts aware that we intend to seek petition for review and they will give us a schedule for a subsequent further information, and we’ll have to file.

Simultaneously, and on the same day, we have to consummate comments on the ICR proposal that EPA has published. The fire slides went through a lot of specifics with that. I apologize, but they already covered this other part I would mention now. But this is all coming under the paperwork production act where EPA has to get authority not to stand out this information collection request.

What we’re completing next week is a 60-day comment period on the draft ICR proposal. After that, EPA will make possibly modifications to the proposal and then send it to review at the office of Management and Budget. It has a 30-day comment period there. We’ll be filing additional comments depending on how EPA responds to the comments that are filed next week in the ICR. And then, Office of Management and Budget will make the decision on whether to allow EPA to send out the ICR.

EPA’s target is to try to get this ICR transmitted by October 30th, or no later than October 30th of this year in order to try to get responses back…

Joe: Lee?

Jimmy: Okay. Well, thank you very much. I suspect we have a technical difficulty there with Mr. Fuller, but we do thank you for what he shared with us. I hope you all heard that last date, October 30th is the goal for the EPA to have this information request out and circulating, and possibly even back. That is not our [inaudible 00:19:53] and it is something that I think we just drew our conclusions that we have. One is that what we’re presenting to do with the information request is just the beginning of what we think will happen because there is a rule in place, it’s going to require new and modified facilities to do these surveys, and once those information requests, which is going to be coming in the fall, is in place, we expect the rule to be reworked.

At the same time, the actual rule itself is going to require the use of [inaudible 00:20:25] cameras, or sniffers, and all the equipment that you are listing in this information request is going to be checked by the EPA to determine whether you are actually stiffing the right equipment. So, what you say in the first part is going to be important down the road, and you’re going to want to get it right.

Information collection request

Finally, the EPA have verbally informed us that they will consider penalizing operators who do not comply cooperatively with the information collection request. They are going to use their environmental [inaudible 00:20:55] schedule for doing that. Our understanding is that it could be up to $25,000 per day.

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With that, that concludes our presentation. We’d like to highlight to you the helpful links that we have up here. They should take you to some of the information or slides that you saw today.

I’d like to thank Mr. Fuller, I’d like to thank Mr. Stanley, I’d like to thank Mr. Stevens and Katie Carmichael. If you have any questions, please feel free to send them to us and we’ll be happy to try to respond. Katie, any final words?

Katie: No. If you all have any questions, feel free to email me at [inaudible 00:21:30], but please take a minute to respond to the evaq that I’ll email tomorrow. That’s all. Thank you.

Jamie: Thank you.

Information collection request

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