Greg Ettling's "For Openers" column discusses various goings-on with the industry.

Two recent polls on your favorite drilling-related Web site ( reveal that 1) the preponderance of drilling projects are bid jobs and 2) “securing necessary permits” finishes somewhere just above “prostate exam” on the drilling contractors' list of enjoyable activities.

Lots of bid work - 45 percent of respondents tell us that 81 percent to 100 percent of their work is bid work; 67 percent of respondents say at least half of their work is bid. A small (yet seemingly content) percentage of respondents (17%) say their firms do between 0 percent and 10 percent bid work.

A pain - nearly two-thirds of drilling contractors who responded to another drilleronline survey say that securing the necessary permits for their drilling projects is much more difficult than it was just two years ago. Just 8 percent say that the process is any easier. Some of the red tape is at least understandable; most of it, however, isn't. Our best wishes to all those in the industry who are putting forth so much time and energy into efforts to bring some common sense to the situation.

The good folks in National Driller's marketing department have been busy tabulating other surveys and polls and are in the process of getting us the results, which, of course, we'll pass along in future issues. Thanks to all the drillers who have participated.

Another Mine Disaster

From the “Good-news-but-we-wish-it-hadn't-come-up-in-the-first-place” department:

Drillers had to go through solid rock to rescue 11 coal miners who were trapped for six days in a deep shaft in southern Russia. One miner died and another was missing.

In a situation eerily reminiscent of the Quecreek incident in 2002, drillers, working from an adjacent mine, penetrated the pit face where the miners had sought refuge following a flood. When they first got inside, the rescuers discovered a note the miners had left on a ventilation pipe, pointing in the direction they went.

The miners had climbed an incline in the shaft in the mine that kept them above the level of the icy water. The missing miner left the group to try and find a way out; rescuers were continuing to search for him as of press time.

Kudos to Jim O.

Jim Olsztynski, your benevolent “Smart Business” columnist, received a friendly note recently - and you know how we like to share:

I read my National Driller faithfully. No issue goes by without offering up what a fellow needs - laughter and steady deeds done.

Your article in the October issue, “The Ten Most Common Causes of Construction Contractor Fail-ure,” delivers the big nail and the big hammer. The Federal Reserve said the other day, “Hold spending below income.” K.I.S.S. advice, perspicuous economics standing against the tide of “The Great I Ams with the Taj Mahal Syndrome,” all sacred demographics targeted.

Aye, 'tis a fine time to be alive and best enjoyed with your brain pan not in contact with your pooper canal.


John Tyson

More Kudos

Jack Cooper of Oxford, Kan., writes:

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Seeing my rig in print (“New Type of Drilling Rig,” Nov. 2004, p. 28) was one of the happiest days of my life. You have done me a great favor; I hope I can repay you. Thanks again.

You're welcome, you're welcome, you're welcome. Your happiness reflects back to us and we appreciate it. That was no favor; that's just what we do (although if you're filthy rich, it should be mentioned that the editors are available for adoption). You're welcome again.

Looking Ahead

We're finishing up another crazy year. (How many consecutive crazy years can there be before crazy actually becomes the norm and, therefore, can no longer be considered “crazy?”) In these times, things shift exponentially further and change radically quicker - for better and worse. But one thing that never changes is the overall character of the people who make up drilling industry - something we can all be thankful for during the upcoming season of celebration.

We'll be back at you in 2004 with more of all the things that have compelled you to make National Driller the No. 1 publication in the industry. We're truly humbled by that honor. ND