I was excited to do some construction monitoring – time to learn a new skill, add to my repertoire and all that. Turns out, monitoring is pretty much the most boring job imaginable. What followed was many, many hours of sitting in my jeep staring at construction workers. If I was really lucky they would be doing something, but most of the time there was an awful lot of standing around (I don’t really understand how anything got done and I wasn’t shocked when it took twice as long to do as they estimated).
Normally, when we monitor they are doing an open-cut method so, we peer into the trench and rifle through the back dirt and look for artifacts, bones or features in the stratigraphy. However, this section of the line was being directionally drilled so not a lot to see because it is all happening underground. Really, we only needed one of us to pop over and watch them while they dug the initial bell holes (to insert the drill heads and then later the pipe), and then to be notified if there was any kind of sinkhole or frac-out (when drilling mud seeps to the surface) so we could take a look.
But I didn’t want the pipeline guys to think we were shirking our duties, so I spent a lot of time staring them down from my jeep (and catching up on some reading, a lot of reading). When that got boring I would bundle up and wander over to see what was going on. I learned a lot about directional drilling from Juan and Mohammad – reamer head sizes and attachments, drilling mud properties, jeeping the pipe for imperfections, proper angles and trench sizes. I also learned that, until they figure out what your job is, if you walk onto a construction site and whip out a camera everyone gets really nervous. I did get to see a frac-out too; it was far less dynamic than I was anticipating . I think I was expecting it to look like Ol’ Faithful spurting out of the ground but in the end it looked like slow-moving lava.
I’m pretty sure all of my excellent new-found knowledge will only serve to make me more popular and interesting at parties and such.