We love the second chapter of this story and are proud to have played a part in MORE’s efforts to address the global water crisis. This story first appeared on the https://more-water.org site. It’s a great read from the perspective of an Ulterra PDC bit.
When we last heard from Petey, the PDC drill bit – and, no doubt, the sole drill bit blogger on the planet – he had just arrived, by plane, into the Kenyan coastal resort town of Diani Beach, at the home of my American missionary friends, Chris and Lisa Moore. While he was thrilled with the beauty of his new surroundings, what he didn’t know was that this was not his final stop – and certainly not his destination. C’mon, he’s a drill bit, for crying out loud. Their not supposed to have it soft. Let’s catch up with him here:
So it didn’t take me long to get used to these new digs. I was lounging around, while wondering what Bobu had in store for me. But I sure wasn’t stressing about it, I can tell you that. One morning, just when I was planning to settle in, Bobu rolls me out of my new digs and sticks me in the back of a shiny blue pickup truck. Then he takes off on some really bumpy dirt roads to – “I have no idea where”. “Of course not,” I tell myself, “your a drill bit, remember?” “Everything with you and Bobu is on a need to know basis.” I’m sure that I’ll figure it out when we get there. Along the way we stop and meet up with some more of his friends, who all seem happy to see Bobu. There is lots of laughter and hugging and more of that gibberish that I simply cannot understand. And Bobu’s joined in with it. Great!
They fill the back of this pickup with lots of stuff and then connect this cute little drilling machine to the back of the truck. “Surely”, I assume, “they’re not going to use me on THAT little drill, I hope!” “Or are they?” “Ha!” “If that’s true, I gotta see this!” We all take off for ‘who knows where’, with Bobu driving again. Some of the guys pack into the back with me. The rest ride up front, with Bobu.
Sure enough, after a not-so-long, but bumpy, dusty ride, we stop and all the men jump out and start unloading all the stuff from the back of the pickup, me included. “Hey, watch how you handle me!” “I’m a star, you know!” Apparently they don’t. Next thing they unhook their little drilling machine and roll it into a corner of this field. After a lot of jabbering and animated discussion (yeah, I know about that. I grew up on oil rigs, remember?), they come for me. “Here we go,” I thought, “this outa be good!” Sure enough, they connect me to a (really short) piece of drill pipe. “Hey, I’m used to being at the end of three 30+ feet of connected drill pipes – like 100 feet, ya know!” “Bobu, are you going to let them do this to me?” Doesn’t seem to dissuade them from their follies, I see. Come to think of it, he’s the one that brought me here. I guess this is what he had in mind. Fat chance they will get any oil out of this hole. I’ll just go along with it. This could actually be quite comical – and fun, who knows?
But what is this? They didn’t install my nozzles. They connected the drill pipe to the drilling machine and just began drilling me into the ground, with no water, no mud. “What’s with that?” I screamed. But nobody heard me, evidently. Oh yeah, I’m a drill bit. Sometimes I forget that. Needless to say I was just getting plugged with the topsoil layer. And the drilling, if you want to call it that, wasn’t going very fast at all. Finally they started pouring some water into the hole and that helped a little. But it was obvious, these guys didn’t know anything about drilling oil wells.
After drilling only a few feet, they stopped and brought me back to the surface. Then they all got together and pushed and tugged and moved the drilling machine. Yeah, by hand! That’s how light it was. But they only moved it about 10 feet. Once the drill was anchored, they went through the same process of using me – a world class rock bit – to drill a couple feet through mud. How peculiar. I was actually getting embarrassed for Bobu. As their apparent leader, it would help if he knew something about drilling, don’t ya think? Eventually the second shallow hole was complete – and I was, once again, laden in mud, my water cavities stuffed full of the heavy stuff. When they raised me back to the surface and removed me from the drilling machine, at least they took the time to wash me. They did a good job, too. It felt good to be clean again. Then they put me back in my box and left me for a couple days.
The next time that Bobu brought me back out, He did insert my nozzles. Huh, maybe he does know what he’s doing. Then they attached me to another of those cute little drill pipes, and inserted me onto the drill machine. Just before I dropped below the surface, I saw those two shallow holes that they used me to drill a couple days before. But now they were filled with concrete, it appeared, and a steel hook was sticking above the top of the concrete. To that they had attached straps, which were wrapped around the drill machine’s outriggers. “Oh, I get it now,” I thought. These are used to anchor the light-weight drill machine – so that it could exert more force on the drill pipes – and on me. Why, that’s rather ingenious. Maybe these guys are smarter than I thought!
As I descended, I could see that they had actually drilled pretty deep. Well, not thousands of feet, like I’m used to on those big Texas drill rigs. But over a hundred feet, I bet. That seemed pretty good for this little drilling machine. As I continued down the hole, I could see that there were layers of various types of soil, and some occasional rock. There were a number of layers with water coming out of them. That happens a lot in oil drilling. Most of the water is just a nuisance, I remember them saying once, when I emerged from a deep hole. But these guys don’t seem to mind. That’s all they were talking about, later, when they brought me back out of the hole. I wonder whats with that?
The drilling was so much slower than I’m used to on a mammoth oil rig. But it was steady. And it was probably all that this little drill rig could muster, as it didn’t seem very heavy. But it sure was working hard. Everyone was. And they all seemed to like what they were doing and talked real nice to one another. I was starting to feel better and better about this. It was not hard work, really. I just was not sure if this machine could ever drill me deep enough to hit oil. I started to feel bad for them, because I didn’t want to see them disappointed.
The next morning they started the process all over again. Connected me to the drill machine, which slowly lowered me down the hole, one small drill pipe section at a time. And then it happened, something I never had experienced before. About half way down the hole, or so, I plunged into water. I wasn’t drilling yet, because they had not turned the mud pump on. But I was submerging ever deeper into cool water. Then when I got to the bottom of the hole, where we had stopped the night before, they turned on the mud and I started drilling again. We drilled all day again, stopping from time to time. But not ever for very long. It was still slow. But it was steady. Some of the rock that I was drilling through was really quite hard, I could tell. But it was no match for my razor-sharp PDC -teeth. Slowly, but surely, I was chewing right through it.
Each time that they brought me back to the surface, I noticed that there were a lot of people watching. Women and children, as well as men and young boys. They always seemed excited to see me. I was experiencing something new. I never had drawn a crowd of onlookers before. On the oil rigs it was always just a few rig workers, who never said much. Just gave orders to one another. But these people were different. They really seemed to like me, as they would point and jabber quickly, whenever I emerged from the hole – even if I was covered in a layer of crushed rock particles. When Bobu or one of the workers would wash me off, several of the onlookers would come close to watch. Some even came over and ran their fingers over my teeth and many curves and grooves. They seemed fascinated with me, even as I was with them. I could not tell what they were saying, but they would talk excitedly to one another. I must say that I was enjoying my return to center stage.
That night I started thinking more about the water in the well – how cool it felt – and how unusual. Then I remembered hearing some of the stories that several of the drill bits that went through the “spa treatment” with me back at the Ulterra shop. Some of them said that they didn’t drill oil wells, but water wells. How peculiar, I thought. Whats the purpose? Its the oil that everyone is fighting over, right? Not water. Water’s cheap. And besides, it just gets in the way and becomes a nuisance, right? But I could see that this was all starting to make more sense – in a weird sort-of way. What if it’s the water that these people are all milling around and talking excitedly about? Maybe there is no oil here – only water. So, maybe now I’m a water well drill bit? Like some of those bits back at the spa. I’ll have to think about that some more. But hey, if it makes them this excited – and helps me retain my “rock star image”, then I could live with that. Live with it, huh! – I answered myself – I could downright revel in it. “Hey everybody, I’m a water well-drilling rock star!” Ya know what? I like that. If these people want water – then I want to help them get it. That night I went to sleep feeling really good about my new role.
And that’s how Petey came to be in Africa, drilling water wells. I can report to you that he really does like his new job – and the people he serves. He is doing an awesome job and truly is – a “rock star drill bit!”