Atchafalaya Swamp

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Price of Oil and Blogging

I apologize to visitors that have come to my site –only to be disappointed –or sometimes relieved (ha-ha) that no new posts are in the offing. This has to do with the price of oil. Seriously. As a driller I’ve been busy as hell. In my two decades of being in the oil patch there’s never been a time like the present –rig utilization at an all time high, with every Tom, Dick and Harry Company, drilling. Shortage of equipment and trained manpower are common themes pervading through oil companies (operators) and of course, us service companies too that serve the oil operators.

I’m supposed to work on a “6 x 3 rotation”, meaning six weeks to be spent on the field and three off. And it used to be that I am assigned to one project or rig only. Now I’m juggling two rigs and my rotations have gone haywire. This means more time on the rig and less time off. With US$100 per barrel oil, the oil companies are in a hurry to get it out of the ground. We in the “’bidness” don’t know how long this gravy train will last. So grab it while you can is our mantra. It’s no wonder then that ExxonMobil is not only the largest oil company in the world but also the world’s largest. Closer to home is the unprecedented record profits of Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS). And calls by the common folks for PETRONAS to share its largesse to maintain subsidies so there won’t be another fuel hike.

To be frightfully honest, there’s no better time to be in the oil patch. For eight years I never saw a salary increase. This year alone we had two salary adjustments. This is to ensure loyalty. In my line of work I could easily don some competitor’s coveralls at a moments notice. I see myself no different than being a hooker; we sell our bodies and soul to the highest bidder. A non-oilfield friend once suggested that drilling professionals are like football players. Although flattering, I’m not about to kid myself. To be a football star you need skills. As drilling guys, we just know how to make holes. Even you can do it. I mean, come on –how much skill do you need to wield a cangkol to dig a hole in your backyard? The mechanics are the same only the scale differs.

Not only are we drilling more wells but we’re drilling it faster too, employing all kinds of snake-oil technologies. It used to be that in a six week period in the swamp, I can perhaps manage one to two 4000 meter wells. Now, three or four wells are increasingly common. Which means everything goes at a higher pace. So our recent salary adjustments do not really commensurate with the workload that has doubled or even tripled.

So that’s my excuse for not updating my blog. Not only that, being on a “floating prison cum rust bucket” we are at the mercy of our fragile satellite internet link. It’s a bit like your Astro dish. When there’s cloud cover, and there’s plenty of that this rainy season, there goes the link. And drilling faster wells also means the rig needs to be towed often. The last move was 96 kilometers and took a few days while I stewed and simmered in my bunk. But on arrival the modem went kaput and I had to wait for a replacement part. It’s not a regular modem mind you but something that looks like your Astro decoder. But now we have it back on. But this also means I have to cut back on my precious sleep since I’m not of the fairer sex, who I’m told are masters of multi-tasking. I can’t drill and blog at the same time. So I do it after hours. This means at odd hours in the night.

But these days I just prefer to go blog-hopping –tons of stuff out there. What more with recent events back home—what, two rallies in a space of a month? Whoa…

Do I hear change a’ comin’?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

What did I tell ya?

Finally Pak Lah had the fuel hike issue addressed at the UMNO AGM yesterday. And his advisers had come up with a brilliant plan along the lines of "let's rompak Raju to pay Rahman..."

PL was quoted as saying: "... the present fuel subsidy scheme could not go on as it was costing the Government RM80bil a year".

Yeah, that's old news. So somebody has to pay. But how?

A new subsidy scheme is being looked into where the rich will pay more for fuel and the poor less.”


In my travels around the world I have yet to find a petrol station which discriminates on the basis of their customers tax bracket. Didn't know that a machine had already been invented for this.

But in Malaysia... semua boleh.

Read the original The Star's article
here and here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Good News Before Election

Agi Idup Lagi Ngalaban
My spirit will be there
O' noble brothers and sisters
Be safe, act responsibly
And finally, be wary of agent provocateurs
Please visit Hantu Laut's blog and hear why it's prudent to be careful.
Good Luck, Godspeed, God Bless!

Malaysia's International Trade & Industry Minister Declares End of Year Cheer

Kenaikan harga petrol tidak jejas Malaysia

ZURICH: Harga petrol yang dijangka akan terus meningkat di pasaran dunia tidak akan menjejaskan daya saing sektor swasta dan industri di Malaysia kerana impak peningkatan kos akan turut dirasai di seluruh dunia, termasuk negara pesaing.Menteri Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz berkata kenaikan harga petrol mungkin tidak dapat dielakkan, namun beban kesannya terhadap Malaysia, yang mempunyai sumber bahan itu, tidak sehebat negara lain yang tidak mempunyai sumber komoditi terbabit dan terpaksa bergantung kepada sumber import sepenuhnya. - BERNAMA

"Increase in petrol prices will not affect Malaysia", Rafidah was quoted as saying.

Of course it would not affect Malaysia, especially Ministers in Malaysia. Any fool knows that. But what about the populace as a whole? I mean, the people, the M-A-J-O-R-I-T-Y?

Watch out folks, petrol prices will increase again very soon, only the impending GE is getting in the way. The government will not be able to sustain subsidies for 90-dollar oil forever.

My only request is, please-lah, don't lie to us by saying there won't be any price increases after the election.

Let's not pussyfoot. Tell it like it is. Better still, let's raise prices NOW. Before the GE.

Hah, amacam? Ada berani ka?