Episode 4/8

Wednesday 29th April 8.00pm

This gripping documentary series follows life on the oil rigs of west Texas. In this episode, Gerald’s men are pushed to breaking point as they dismantle and move the Longhorn rig; more delays put Wayne’s job on the line; and Derek lets his boss down once again.

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.

Of the three teams, the Longhorn crew is the first to reach total depth (TD) and hit oil. The boys are rewarded with one of the toughest jobs a roughneck can do – a rig move. “Today’s a dangerous day,” says driller Gerald. With so much equipment to break down and move, there is a good chance of someone getting injured. To make a stressful situation a hellish one, the extra hands called upon for the job have failed to turn up.

For Gerald, the brutal rig move is a constant struggle to satisfy the health and safety officers on the one side and the rig owners on the other. “These guys are saying, ‘slow down, be safe’. These guys are saying, ‘hurry up, make money’,” he reflects. “You’re kinda screwed in between the two of them.”

In his haste to free a piece of equipment, roughneck Paul receives a nasty gash on the arm from a shard of steel. He is back on site 20 minutes later, however, to help complete the move by nightfall. A brutal 16-hour day is at an end, but the next day is little better. The exhausted riggers make constant mistakes as they dig the new well. Moreover, slip- ups by the other crew manning the Longhorn leave Gerald’s team in the firing line from company bosses. For all their hard work, Gerald’s lads know they could be sacked at a moment’s notice.

The Viking rig, meanwhile, is hit by a costly delay when the drill bit has to be replaced. This entails pulling two miles of pipes out of the ground, changing the bit and putting everything back in again. Having started the process, Wayne is stunned to return the next day and find that he needs to do it all over again. The replacement drill bit has been worn out in just one day after a stray bottle cap fouled up the machinery.

Wayne’s boys attach yet another $50,000 drill bit and re-insert the pipes into the ground. For this job, derrick man Bryson has to dangle from a wire at the top of the tower and feed the pipes into the ground. But Bryson makes a dangerous mistake when one of the pipes gets away from him and swings loose inside the derrick. Wayne must keep a calm head in order to avert disaster. “If they see me panic, then they’re gonna panic,” he says. The stray pipe is pushed back into the ground and Viking finally reaches TD – but is there black gold at the bottom of the well?

Over at Big Dog, worm Derek continues to rub his colleagues up the wrong way. Roughneck Brian does not believe the college boy is cut out for work in the oilfield. “He just doesn’t do what you tell him because he already thinks he knows it all,” he says. Boss Justin has shown a willingness to take Derek under his wing, but is left disappointed when the worm makes a careless mistake and ends up flooding the rig site with water. “I had a little faith in somebody and that faith is gone now,” he says. Has Derek worn out Justin’s patience? And, as yet more delays pile up, will the Big Dog rig ever finish its well?

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