Saturday, May 15, 2010

Worship Touring Halliburton in the Gulf

From friends who happened to drive through Galveston the other day:

. . . one of the brochures I’d collected had looked pretty interesting: a self-guided tour through an actual oil-drilling rig . . .

While the museum was in a real shallow-water drilling rig, it wasn’t, as I’d imagined, just as it had been when working; instead, it was a self-guided worship tour of the oil-drilling business itself: gadgets and intricate machines each displayed with enormous pride and explanations of how they worked. Among others, there was a display by Halliburton describing how cementing is done—one of the suspects in the recent spill. They claimed, and after this tour I believe it, that deep-water drilling is at the cutting edge of our scientific work—akin, in the complexity of its working, to our putting men on the moon! (Indeed, the divers wear suits very like the space suits our astronauts wore.)

Going through this, as we were, right in the aftermath of a gigantic new “spill” in the gulf, was a schizophrenic experience. I found myself taking pictures of each mention of the cementing process. Since my mechanical store of knowledge is…uh…slim, even the explanations offered on the first two floors of exhibits wasn’t sticking very well; but the third, top, floor was much more comprehensive and thus interesting to me. It was kind of a huge recruiting display, describing all the different kinds of personalities and skills that are needed to run the mammoth business. I was immediately drawn to a large display that reminded me of a horoscope chart. At the top of each column a personality type was described, followed by which of the many kinds of skills it takes to run the industry would be appropriate for such a personality. Bean counters, risk takers, bleeding heart people carers, P.R. types, chefs, etc., etc. In short, it seems that any reasonably intelligent, reasonably well-educated person in the country (the world?) could find employment in the deep-sea drilling industry. If you were working shifts on an actual platform in off hours you’d have access to fitness rooms, a library, a movie theater, and gourmet meals (it sounded like a stay at a resort). If you were an actual go-down-to-the-depths employee you could be making various thousands of dollars a day!!! And wear one of those groovy suits, to boot!

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