Friday, January 28, 2011

Posing Roughnecks?

When the New York Times published this photo last November, I made a copy and have puzzled over it in the intervening weeks.

Yesterday the Deseret Snooze published the photo again, giving Ralph Wilson of the Associated Press photo credit. The caption to the photo read: "Workers move a well casing into place at a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well."

There are three roughnecks in the picture: a couple of floorhands and, perhaps, a motorman or derrick hand or even the driller.

There is no casing in sight.

The only moving going on has to do with the tongs the two floorhands are wrestling with. Tongs are useful if you're breaking apart a couple of drill pipes that have been screwed together tightly. Or if you're tightening them together after you've spun the one down over the other with the chain hanging in the left bottom foreground.

They're not much use if the only drill pipe is firmly anchored in the slips on the floor and there's no drill pipe above it to be attached or unattached.

So what are the roughnecks doing as they push and pull on their respective tongs?

It has been 35 years since I last worked on a rig as a roughneck, so maybe things have changed so drastically that I just can't make sense of the photo.

Or maybe the roughnecks are just posing for a photographer who doesn't have a clue that they're putting him on.

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