Episode 2/8

Wednesday 15th April 8.00pm

This gripping documentary series follows life on the oil rigs of west Texas. In the second episode, new boss Justin is put through a baptism of fire when the Big Dog platform runs into problems. Peanut risks his job again while the Longhorn rig grinds to a halt. And Wayne sees light at the end of the tunnel after a series of delays.

The bleak landscape of west Texas is enjoying a massive boom in oil exploration. For the hardy souls that work the oil rigs, there is big money to be made. Roughnecks perform one of the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs in the world, putting their lives on the line in the hunt for black gold. This series follows three competing rigs as they race to tap oil two miles below the ground in just 50 days.

The massive Big Dog rig is under the command of a new boss – rigger Justin. Only one hand remains from the previous crew – college boy Derek, who, as the least experienced man on the platform, is known as ‘the worm’. Justin is working Derek hard to ensure the new man learns to take his job seriously. “You’re not gonna get much rest with Justin,” Derek admits.

Drilling is proceeding smoothly under Justin’s watchful eye when the hole suddenly starts to collapse around the drill bit. With pressure building up, Justin is forced to flush out the well and pull the pipe back up – losing a whole day’s work. Since it costs around $50,000 a day to run a rig, any delay is hugely expensive and exerts massive pressure on the crew. Justin must now insert the pipes back into the ground – a tricky procedure that sees him dangling from a rope 90 feet in the air. “It’s what we call ‘a well from hell’,” he remarks.

The Longhorn platform has difficulties of its own this week. To begin with, the rig’s worm, Peanut, angers boss Gerald by showing up late for the second time in just a few days. His absence means more work for the other roughnecks, who would be quite happy to see Peanut fired. But when the young lad arrives, he explains that he has just found out he is having a baby boy, and went out the night before to celebrate. Peanut’s tale is enough to melt Gerald’s stern heart. “I don’t wanna lose Peanut,” he says. “But the best man in the world ain’t worth a damn if he ain’t here.”

Gerald grants Peanut a reprieve, but he is soon faced with a much more serious problem when the drill bill gets stuck 7,000 feet underground. Gerald’s solution is to drop a 5,000lb weight onto the pipe to dislodge it. After ten hours of hammering, the drill bit is freed and the rig can get back to work.

However, it is not long before Peanut is causing trouble again – when he foolishly tries to lift four pipes on a cable designed for only three. The pipes come crashing back to earth and Gerald directs more of his ire on the rookie. “They tried to pick up too many pipes at one time,” he says of his underlings. “Could have killed everybody big enough to die.” Is Peanut on his last life as a rigger?

The Viking plant, meanwhile, has been plagued by problems from the beginning. It is a big concern for rig owner Mike LaMonica, whose company has paid a staggering $1million just for the rights to drill in the area for 50 days. Mike takes a trip to Viking to check up on veteran driller Wayne.

Viking’s luck soon starts to turn, however, when one of Wayne’s roughnecks announces that he has found the source of their misfortune – the Texan flag is hanging upside down. “We’re pretty proud of our state,” says Steve. “That kinda makes us all look like a bunch of idiots!” “That’s a disgrace to the oilfield!” Wayne adds. The flag is corrected and Viking’s pace picks up. Wayne’s crew pulls a double shift and before long Viking is back on track in the race for black gold. To celebrate, Wayne and the boys enjoy a day off shooting clay pigeons and chugging beer.

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