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April 2018, vol 14 no 1

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Lew Watts

Lost in Translation

The files are easy: impersonal notes, the occasional reprimand from a boss. But saying goodbye to incomprehensible textbooks is hard.

crenulated cleavage
I remember some geology
with age

As I throw the last book onto the fire, a sheet of paper flutters to the floor. It’s an operational telex from a drilling rig, a Nigerian well I recall as an oil discovery—the “yellow cut” gives it away.

“12 hour report from Saipem II
location Aki-I, six hundred.
Twist-off fish recovered. Drilled
three stands down to top-Lammar.
Tagged top seal at 9620,
took a kick and closed in well.
Increased mud to 1.72.
Pressure stabilized and drilled
on to 9656. Steadily
increasing sand with yellow cut,
C3/C4 indications,
strong fluorescence, shows on shakers.
Resistivity on MWD,
with good separation on long over short.
Continued down to 9730.
Pulling out. Preparing to log.
Hostages reported well.”

I read it several times, the last aloud. The text is equally impenetrable, but there is a poetic beat and rhythm I must have missed at the time. Hard to believe wellsite engineer Precious Nwosu had it in him.

new Serb neighbors
grandma says they speak
in acrylics