It could have been Sonny & Cher's... "The Beat Goes On".
It’s a scene repeated all over Texas. You walk into a small town diner, sometimes referred to as a “Greasy Spoon.” You pick a booth in the back corner with red vinyl seats that are cracked and pealing from age and wear. Yours are not the first pair of jeans to slide in and dine on such delicacies as a big greasy burger, the Mexican plate #1, or may a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. Then you see it…the jukebox. There is a tableside unit right next to the bottle of ketchup. As you dig in your pocket and pull out a handful of quarters, you begin to scroll through the pages of tunes…old and new. Now comes the hard decision…do you select Buck Owen 1964 version of “It’s Crying Time Again,” or something a bit more contemporary like Taylor Swift and “Shake It Off”?
For those of you that may have missed my saga on Facebook or Twitter, I spent 10-days in on a well in far South Texas - south of Hebbronville – only to return empty handed. That’s right it was a dry hole. Since my return, I’ve been asked repeatedly, “how do you get over that kind of loss” and “I had to be a heart broken”. Those are all very good questions, and I am only now beginning to explore them.
First, you should know that hitting a dry hole is not the end of the project. There’s plugging the well, clearing the pad site, reports to be filed with the Railroad Commission of Texas, invoices to be paid, and you still need to share the news with investors explaining again, why a project that began with such science and promise ended so unceremoniously. It has been almost 2-month and I am just beginning to reexamine what happened late on the night of May 5.
It was a rollercoaster. There was an initial air of excitement and optimism as we began running the wireline. As the results began coming in it was instant disappointment, but what we were seeing just didn’t make sense. Relief came when we learned there was an issue with the wireline tool arrangement. There was a new man on the crew; who had set it in a different order than the computer was set up, meaning our results were off by several feet. When we reran the report, we were again encouraged. No question, we had to take core samples from the wall of the wellbore. Couriers arrive sometime after midnight to take them to a lab in Corpus Christi. Now we waited for the results. It was 5AM when the email arrived to the laptop in my hotel room. It was clear…we did not have a well. Everyone was awake so I didn’t need to drag anyone out of bed. The disappointment was on everyone’s face, and that was heartbreaking. The owner of the motel where we stayed was up making us coffee and shared in our disappointment. I was fortunate, I was working with such professionals they were able to immediately change gears and begin making plans to shut down the operation. That’s what you do, and I learned that from everyone on the team.
Nevertheless, there was sadness too. No one steps off and takes on a project of this size carelessly, but in oil and gas exploration, there are just no sure shots. Science has improved over the years, and it is critical to making a successful well, but it can still be a guessing game.
In hindsight, I recognize I came home richer than I left. While I had been on any number of drilling sites, I had not been on one, straight through…start to finish. It was an amazing experience. I learned so much from the group of professionals that surrounded me: the geologist, mud loggers, and drilling crew, and members of the numerous service company that were there to support our efforts. Do I wish we had discovered hydrocarbons…OF COURSE. Now 2-months later I have a great takeaway in what I did gain from this prospect. I also learned that you move on to the next one only to do it all over again…and that’s where I am today.
So I know you’re dying to know…what did I play on the jukebox? Well it didn’t have “Tomorrow” from Annie…so I had to go with Miss Swift!