Tuesday, October 27, 2009


They have physiques for hard labor, a fondness for steak and a home away from home called a Man Camp. They are roughnecks, and they are bringing a new dimension to the region's demographic as drilling crews migrate from places like Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana to pursue the gas-rich Marcellus Shale under the Twin Tiers.

In Athens Township, Pa., Chesapeake Energy and Nomac Drilling are planning a 180-bed gated compound to house their crews when they're not pulling 12-hours shifts, seven days a week, on derricks being erected throughout the countryside. Many are expected to show up in Broome County next year, after New York finalizes a regulatory overhaul to accommodate the intensive type of horizontal drilling used to tap the Marcellus.

The name roughneck, which crews tend to embrace as a badge of honor, reflects the demanding and sometimes risky work that sustains them, as well as the cowboy mystique they bring from their hometowns in the South and West. Nomac, a principal contractor for Chesapeake, is one of many companies relocating manpower and equipment to the Northeast to develop the Marcellus, the largest natural gas reserve in the country, running from Broome County through Pennsylvania to parts of West Virginia and Ohio.

Unlike other firms, however, Nomac and Chesapeake won't leave crews to house and feed themselves. They are proposing to build a secured modular-home park in Athens, modeled after one in Searcy, Ark. Commonly referred to as a "Man Camp" by everyone outside the corporate world, it's indigenous to the landscape and drilling culture out there, yet it's a new and foreign presence to the blue-collar worker here.

It has a mess hall, recreation room and laundry. Workers, manning opposing 12-hour shifts, share dorm-style rooms. Around the perimeter will be a security fence, and "facility managers" will track residents who are required to sign in and sign out. Visitors won't be welcome. Not surprisingly, it has raised plenty of questions. First and foremost: What's the fence for?

--------- I wonder if there's anything that would satisfy the so-called progressive/left in this country, all their caterwauling about jobs, poverty, needy people ... and they complain about man camps, claiming the camps raise crime rates and degrade the idyllic surroundings.

Particularly dumb and predictable is the article's "What's the fence for?" Meant to sound ominous and evil - could the fence be for public safety, protecting equipment, theft, etc.? "Track residents," sign in and out, visitors not welcomed... it's a heavy-duty work environment people, not a sing-a-long at Camp Casey.

One poster, on the second link above, stated: "I find it depressing that this community is so against drilling (despite using enormous quantities of natural gas) that our local paper feels comfortable dehumanizing the workers. Imagine an article describing migrant farm workers this way. This is a sad situation - ignorance turning to prejudice so quickly."

Yep, no crime around migrant labor camps, no environmental degradation.

When "progressives" are not dehumanizing the people making an honest living, they're screeching about the environmental impact, which believe me is much more regulated and managed today.

Long ago, during the first "economic crisis" we lived through, DH's company downsized, and to make a long story short, he took a roughneck position in Prudoe Bay. The income was amazing but it should be as not a lot of folks rush, particularly smoothneck "progressives," to work 12-15 hour days in a camp, under risky and extreme conditions, and away from family.

Indeed. "Man camps" predominantly employ skilled and/or educated folks and are unpopular with the left, they prefer migrant labor camps - I suppose more recruits for their anti-something or save everything movements.

I know I know Bubba - it's the big evil corporations that someday the "left" will topple and replace with a kinder and gentler and more egalitarian tyranny.

A progressive poster at PI says "The local communities should demand permanent economic improvements instead of temporary work camps." Lol. These people think that sort of rhetoric makes sense. A mindset that happens when you fiddle with your bootstraps and wait for someone to deliver you a life. By the way, these camps have employees for decades, maybe you can fill a need there somewhere and improve your own economics - or you can just piddle around making demands and let the immigrants beat you to it.

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