Celebrating a Festive Christmas in the Oil Patch

Chord Energy’s workers face another Christmas spent toiling at the Patterson 806 rig in North Dakota’s Bakken Play. The company is based in Williston, North Dakota, and when it arrives Christmas Day, it’ll be just another cold winter workday for the roughnecks and derrick hands on the rig and throughout the adjacent oil fields.

Dallas Moore, 38, from Casper, Wyoming, has spent the last several Christmases and holidays in work camps such as the one near the Patterson 806 rig. He says he’s grown accustomed to waking up on Christmas morning with his coworkers and the rig’s equipment, rather than his own children. His time spent in various oil fields has meant missing his children’s development in favor of the high wages and long hours typical in the oil industry.

Meanwhile, Riley Kuntz, a derrick hand on the Patterson 806, celebrated the holiday with his family near Williston. He spent just hours at home with his wife and children. Men such as Brett Smith, another employee working a 14-hour shift out on the fields, spend much of their time traveling to and from their families.

For these workers and the 15,000 rig hands throughout the Bakken Play, the holidays are just another day on the job. Around the Bakken, workers endure brutal conditions, carrying out what they refer to as “muscle work”. They spend their days braving blustery winter conditions and dangers on the oil fields.

Even on Christmas Day, the brave individuals out on the oil fields have to continue working. As part of the roughly 35,000 total employees working in the oil fields, they contribute to much-needed energy production of oil, the bread and butter of North Dakota. This year, and every year, the fields pump out a total of 1.25 million barrels of oil every 24 hours in November and December.

The challenges of the oil fields don’t diminish the industry’s dedication to normal holiday celebrations. Even for those not working the holidays, the people out in the field provide a reliable service—come rain, shine, or snow. John Person, a geological field coordinator out at Neset Consulting Service, explained that workers deserve a nice holiday dinner. He acknowledged their time far from home.

Looking at roughnecks such as Matt Bornschein or maintenance workers Casey Gardner and James Harmon, they expected to miss the holidays, but ask for all to appreciate their hard work. Many people such as these gentlemen are leaving behind families amid the pandemic, seasonal changes and health concerns.

These individuals working in the industry are contributing to America’s energy needs on this Christmas. Their sacrifices should never be taken for granted. The Elf Times has met and interacted with these brave souls. The essence of “Merry Christmas” to one and all, may the gift be black gold and health for “Patterson Crew 806”.

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