Atchafalaya Swamp

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Experts in "Tight" Places

In keeping with the "pro" and "non-pro" blogger stance, of which I am neither, this week I shall pay homage to people whom I am often in awe of - The Rig Movers.

The Two Captains would aprreciate this edition (and so would the rest of you I hope); Ancient, and Not-So-Ancient alike - because it deals with the complex intricacies of navigating in "tight" places.

Normally it takes me 2 - 4 weeks drilling "duals" - two wells on a given location before it's time to move again. I was fortunate this time around because I had my trusty Canon Ixus 850 in my front pocket while boarding the chopper while the rig is being moved by tugboats. The move can take anywhere between 16 to 30 hours (sometimes more, if the tide isn't in our favor because we have to stop and wait - and yes, occasionally we do get marooned on an unexpected sand or mud bar).

Ready to Board

Pre-flight checks. Notice the "legroom" of this French-made Dauphin helicopter?

Goodbye, Sepinggan (Balikpapan's International Bandara).

Some fall asleep . . .

While others contemplate . . .

While some perform "the sholat"

View from 3000 feet: Batu Bara from presumably Tenaga Coal Mines - being towed by barges to the open sea. Ready to electrify the lives of millions of Bolehsians. For more Tenaga Debacles go here.

And what's this is spy in the distance. A rig being towed?

On closer inspection - YES! - it's our rig! But since there are"big trees" flanking the small waterways, the pilot informed on our headsets that he'll have to drop us at "CPU" - a Central Processing Unit - where a boat will take us on board. He can't land the chopper on the rig's helideck lest he clips them branches . . . Aw shucks, that means lugging our bags all over the place again!

At the CPU . . .

And transfer to "sea truck" ( crew boat).

Joining the rig - me rushing up to the helideck - just in time to record this "tight places" business.

The powerful tugboat - pulling us 96 souls and associated drilling equipment on board a rig-cum- barge measuring 30 m X 100 m. Don't worry, after "de-ballasting" - the barge floats higher with an 11 feet draft. Plus these waterways were dredged ages ago . . . err, sure or not?

And the "Experts" who made it all possible? All home grown, mind you. The groups includes marine pilots and survey positioning experts.

Notice how close the fronds are. Sometimes you can put your hand out and touch the leaves!

And finally, we arrive . . .

To our new home for the next couple of weeks . . .

After ballasting (weighing and stabilizing the rig/barge), with the jacks in "up" position, we're ready to "ngebor" . . . To borrow a friend's phrase, "Baiklah murid murid, sekarang buat bulatan besar dan berlari setempat. Satu, dua, tiga . . ."

Up on the helideck, after final positioning, where I normally go for my pre-dinner walks with my 8 GB Nano in my pocket and MX-500 Sennheiser 'buds in my ear. But it rained earlier, so strike that. Now don't want to go slippin' and slidin' here do we?