Confessions of an Oil and Gas Worker: I live in Heaven, but I work in Hell…


I live in Heaven, but I work in Hell…

My family and I moved away from Alberta last September in order to have a better life. We chose a place that was near my wife’s hometown in New Brunswick. A place where the speed of life is slower and more manageable. Now we find out this area is targeted for oil and gas development.

I don’t want fracking in my hometown.

Here’s Why:  It starts with surveying, then drilling, frac’ing, followed by completions and pipe lining. The surveyors are quiet usually.

But then, the construction crew rolls in with their heavy haul trucks, dozers and excavators. For the next two weeks the noise will be heard for miles, all day and night. Nature will never look the same again. Ever.

trucksNow come the rig movers. Heavy haul trucks travel for a week or so…oversize loads with tired drivers negotiating back roads gets challenging. The roads will be damaged all the way to the road base.

Next a drilling crew will come in for a period of 4 weeks to 6 months depending on how well things go. The frackers will be brought in to bring the well to production. This could be 3- 45 days depending on the well program. This creates steady truck traffic hauling on the highways 24 hrs a day. Any combination of fluids and sand will be used, some of it hazardous material.  None if it is identified. Truckers do not know exactly what chemicals they are hauling on board.

Finally, you have completions and pipeliners.

Drilling takes place day and night. When they drill through the water table it is normal to have what they call “losses”. This means they lost drilling fluid into the water table. This happens because the cement cracks or flakes – just like your home’s foundation. Add to this the dangers of pressurized gas.

The culture is one of disregard and ridicule for the environment. If a safety issue is too expensive they will find another way. Companies disregard environmental precautions because fines are cheaper than the cost of adhering to the rules. Workers who report damage or spills know they will lose their jobs. These shortcuts usually affect the environment or worker safety.

When we lived in Beaverlodge, there was a rig blow out that burned the drilling rig to the ground. It burned for 3 days. Our house was forty km away and the flames looked as if a 4-story building across the street was burning. The site engineer said they encountered greater pressure than expected. The contamination from the drilling fluid pushed out of the well with natural gas behind it causing a slick coating to rain down for a radius of .5-1 km surrounding the rig site.

You must be asking why I still work there. I’m an addict to oil and gas for my vehicles and my wages. But, I am slowly breaking away and the first step was to remove my family from Alberta to a safe place like New Brunswick. If Oil and Gas are allowed to run amok here like they do in Alberta, we will be moving again.

  •  Men live and work in camps so they are available at a moment’s notice. Sometimes they work 48 hours straight; many use drugs (cocaine, uppers) to stay awake. Drug tests take place with advance warning, but also a black market in clean urine. Fatalities are usually kept out of the media.
  • Companies often shut down and re-open under a new name to avoid scrutiny.
    High wages for menial work results in large, uneducated workforce with an absurd sense of entitlement.
  • Complaints are railroaded, stonewalled, or denied. Some companies don’t bother to acknowledge the complaint in the first place. If held accountable, these companies would lose so much money they wouldn’t be able to afford to operate.
  • After three years of enjoying good, clean water, the water suddenly turned foul. Citizens were advised that billing would begin for water, and water was suddenly clean again. Despite citizens seeing the water trucks come in and making the obvious conclusions that the fresh water supply had been damaged by local drilling, this was denied by municipality. “You’re lucky you had free water for as long as you did”. There was no way to prove what happened after the fact. Usage bills were roughly $100/month for a household of 2.
  • There was a culture that undervalued women and showed a total lack of respect.
  • Youth also demonstrate a disturbing lack of respect for the environment, sneering at environmental slogans, making fun of people who try to make a difference, even in something as small as separating the recycling. But how can we expect anything else when they follow the lead of an adult population that is willing to damage the planet for a living?
  • If fracking is supposed to bring jobs to NBers, why are NBers who are already working in Alberta being offered the positions? Rest assured, there will be few new jobs for the unemployed here.