The hidden years,133, black gold

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Thursday 20 August 08:15


Black gold

The moose steak had not been a wrong choice and Bobby Joe gave generous portions. It took my mind of diesel flocculating or not under extreme conditions. It had the typical strong taste of wild. I have something amazing as a dessert, ‘Bobby laughed,’ but only if you have a bit of space left over. ‘ ‘That depends,’ Bil thought, 'what are the desserts today? ‘ Well Moose, Moose sorbet or puddings, ‘he looked at me quizzically. ‘Hey,’ I said, ‘are you serious? The two men just about fell over with laughter when they saw my crestfallen face. ‘Nothing of the sort,’ said Bobby Joe, ‘that does not exist, but what exists is my delicious warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream '' That sounds great,’ I said and I was really enjoying the stop. The uncomplicated humor of the bearded  man and the warmth of his cabin it all had something cozy. A kind of pub atmosphere of yesteryear.

Moments later it was time to go and we were off again. The snow came right off the windshield and blinded us while the wipers went back and forth. We arrived at the junction Fort McMurray and Bill simply passed it. ‘Should we not go there,’ I asked? ‘No, we need direction Galloot Lake, which lies 200 kilometers past McMurray’ replied Bill. ‘The general direction is McMurray, but let's face it ,had you ever heard of Galloot?’. I had to admit I had never heard of it. ‘We will provide the men of the black gold with provisions,’ laughed Bill.'What do you mean black gold, ‘I wanted to know’ Bill looked at me quizzically, ‘tar sands are on the rise, since 1930 they have been working in this region winning oil from it. ‘ ‘Really,’ I asked? ‘My father told me many years ago about that,’ I said thoughtfully, ‘but he said it in that it was not profitable, not yet, I should say.’ ‘Oh,’ Bill looked at me sideways. ‘I am not an economist and I only know a lot about trucks,’ he continued, ‘but now there is an expansion going on that you can not believe.’

‘My father said that the Arabs should collaborate first and close their ranks, if we ever wanted to make tar sands profitable.’ ‘So,’ Bill said, ‘your dad said so? He was right there, you know ‘cause such a kind of alliance between the Arab countries has just taken place and I find it back on the price of diesel. Which goes up every week. ‘ ‘Oh, I did not know that,’ I replied, ‘We supply the camp with the refinery equipment and food,’ Bill explained and will be loaded up with a piece of derrick that goes towards Yellowknife. Since it is built on swampy area. ‘ ‘Can we get there then,’ I asked naively? Bill said nothing and sent the comby through some nasty bends, the weather was undeniably getting worse. ‘If only it does not become a real snowstorm,’ said Bill, ‘because where we go is no road, only a downtrodden track. ‘Yes,’ he continued, ‘we can drive over the swamps in this wetland because it is semi-perma frost. That is hard-frozen until March, then it thaws out and everything must be dismantled, the whole lot and brought back on solid ground. ‘ ‘So what do they dismantle,’ I asked. ‘Derrick parts, piping, a set of barracks, a pumping house and so on. All that remains is the valve and as the fall or winter comes again, like now in the late fall, everything is built up again. If you wait too long to dismantle the whole base sinks into the swamp.‘

‘How is it, 'I said,' that it still worth the effort?’ ‘Oil companies pump that mess, the crude oil from the ground for tenths of cents' said Bill. They locate a pool of oil, drill a hole, place it under a valve and pump it to a discharge tank established on permafrost soil, land which is always frozen. When the crude oil has been through the pumping station and has passed a cracker, then it's worth a dollar, but beware, they are pumping hundreds of thousands of liters per day, depending on the field. Then comes the state and levies 80% excise and we're screwed. ‘ 'Gosh, I've never wondered what it was with cost and that even though my father has always worked in the oil, ‘I laughed. ‘It pays them, continued Bill,’ to hire trucks like ours  that only have to make trips to build facilities up or to dismantle and move the materials. Add to this the teams working 24 hours around the clock to drain those fields and only sleep in turns in the barracks. ‘ Then I saw the whole picture, these were the men who came into a city after nine months and drunk themselves silly, spending money like water to make up for lost months.


I was curious to see what the base camp would be like. ‘The air is getting more and more dense,’ BiIll muttered aloud, ‘I'm worried,’ I saw when I looked up that visibility had become virtually zero and the sky was grayish blue, as if something  was about to cast a white blanket over us.

San Daniel 2015

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