Whites City through the Wolfcamp Field

This is the largest estimate of continuous oil that USGS has ever assessed in the United States. The Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin portion of Texas’ Permian Basin province contains an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. From a November 15, 2016, USGS Report.
 

It turned out that, without knowing it, Michele and I had wandered into the Wolfcamp Shale area of the Midland Basin when we were forced to turn around and take another road into the Carlsbad area a couple of nights ago. Because we had really only seen it in the dark, we decided to detour back to see it in daylight. BTW, Michele was driving and I was photographing on this part of the trip. Riding through the Wolfcamp area was the closest I will ever get to Deadwood; this is the 21st Century equivalent to an old-timey Gold Rush, an Oil Rush with corporations doing the rushing. It was both hellishly repellant and strangely compelling.

After breakfast at the Cactus Cafe in Whites City, we drive down the small back road we had used to get Whites City two nights ago. It is the kind of road we often see driving through ranching country in Nevada except that the countryside is flat and empty.
We pass old, almost picturesque, falling down barns and houses, sometimes replaced with newer, but abandoned trailers. 
As we deeper into the former emptiness, we run into trucks….
and then more trucks, under impossibly blue skies.
Everybody is in a hurry to get someplace and the roads are too small to carry the traffic but they are being improved. This is dry, dry, land with only an occasional “gully washer” and one of the improvements are signs that tell the truckers how deep the standing water is in a low spot on the road.
There are trucks every couple hundred feet, for miles (look closely between the first two trucks).
We pass lots of tractors hauling these specialized containers. BTW, by “tractor”, I mean the road machine pulling the trailer.
Everything here had to be trucked here. These huge drill towers are hauled in sections in trucks that take up almost the whole road.
This huge drill rig stands on its tippy toes like it doesn’t want to get dirty, which, considering how dusty it can get, is probably a stellar idea. This is not a cheap operation…
and, apparently,  it is not very safe, either.
Fortunately, there are doctors nearby, or, going by the cars in the parking lot, one doctor. If you can’t read the sign, it says “XstremeMD” (actually, even if you can read it, it says “XstremeMD”).
There are trucks everywhere and…
and they need to be loaded and unloaded which often requires specialized equipment. 


Of course the workers have to live somewhere and we ran into several of these encampments, for lack of a better term. On the sign, the second Bylaw says “Watch for Children”
This is Signor Lodge and they were still setting it up when we drove through.
The newly built – moved in? – Orla General Store with four food trucks behind it.
We talked about having lunch here and then lost our nerve.

All in all, while the area we wandered around is huge, I think the number of workers numbers in the thousands, not tens of thousands. However, they are continuing to survey and more people are arriving every day.

We stopped to talk to a couple of guys surveying for new sites. When I talked to them, I said, “This is amazing.” and one answered, “I wouldn’t say amazing, but it is…something.”

After several hours of traffic jamming with big trucks, we were almost out of gas, so we went back to Whites City to gas up. BTW, we were the only SUV we saw, everybody that wasn’t driving a huge truck hauling something was driving a huge pickup, like a Ford 250 or bigger. 

To be continued…

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