The Geo-Hut is adjacent to the derrick, hooked up to electric with heaters blasting 24/7 to deal with snow and deteriorating weather. This snow started yesterday and has intermittently laid a six inch blanket atop the Geo-Hut roof. Inside the trailer, one bunk is covered with clothes and gear, a sleeping bag is on the other. In a separate room is a desk, a microscope, and a place to spread geological maps. A bag of groceries is on the floor by the front door. There is no stove or frig and the portable toilet is at the edge of the drill site, in the field.

Max has been here several days, arriving after the well was surveyed and spudded, taking notes and analysing samples kicked up as the drill bit grinds through four different pay zones. There are long stretches in the drilling where nothing happens, then short quick stretches of anxiety or exhilaration when the drill bit enters a pay zone.

This evening, late, the creators of this business plan peer at samples, measure how the interior of the Earth is conforming to their mental picture of it, wait for more samples, decide which zones need to be tested to see if they are to be profitable. This well is the end of a long process of coming up with a prospect, leasing land, selling the deal to investors, lining up a driller, making sure your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted.  

As an oil geologist, this is what you do for a living.. As an investor, this is your gamble.

We don’t stay all night, have a hotel room in Benkleman heated with three little electric heaters plugged into the walls for heat. Tomorrow morning, early, we’ll be back.

The oil business is predictably unpredictable.



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