Over the years, I’ve photographed many of the drilling rigs working in southeast Saskatchewan. It’s time to renew the 12 Rigs of Christmas! Over the next 12 days, you’ll see rigs of companies still here, and others that have come and gone. Some have changed names and colours. People have come and gone. But you know what? Our industry is still keeping our trucks fueled and our people warm. Please share these posts – you might be in them, or recognize others who are.

This is Betts Drilling Rig 1 on its first hole Dec 3, 2011, which means this marks ten years drilling for the company and crews.

That first hole was for Elkhorn Resources, northeast of Northgate, just a short distance from where I would later shoot Red Dog Rig 3, the Third Rig of Christmas. Nearly 10 years later, I would return to the same area, just a mile down the road, to photograph another Betts Rig, drilling GFY Resources first hole. That, in turn, was the first story for Pipeline Online, seen here.

Shoot like this made me realize how beautiful the oilpatch can truly be.

This photo shoot was another georgous days and sunset. I tried something new with this shoot – using the biggest rolling suitcase style camera bag I could find, to haul all my gear. And like an idiot, as the sun was setting, I dragged that 49 pound camera bag across the open field around the lease. Let’s just say it was designed for airport terminals, not cultivated fields. That led me to a new practice of getting a special ergonomic two-camera harness and leaving the camera bag in the back of the truck. But what I did do, as you can see here, is reposition my tripod a hundred or so yards out from the edge of the lease to get the stunning high dynamic range evening shots, which would become a signature of my work.

You’ll also see another experiment – my first 360 degree panoramas ever shot with a special tripod head I bought for the purpose. Those were turned into a virtual tour which unfornatately now no longer works. But it opened up a whole new line of work for me, for a few years, at least. In those panoramas you can see what a perfectly clean, brand new doghouse looks like, without a scratch in it.

I had a license plate made of first picture you see in this gallery. After seven years, it’s finally worn out.

Several years later, I was coming home from Regina, watching thunderstorms roll across the sky just as I approached Betts Rig 1, along Highway 1, south of Benson. That resulted in the photos you see in the YouTube video, below the gallery. You’ll see one of them on Burgess Creek Exploration’s website. Not coincidentally, the guy who runs Burgess Creek, Dean Potter, used to run Elkhorn.

This was one of a number of rigs principally built in Estevan, an industry now long gone. But at the time, it was fantastic to see this could be done, here, in Saskatchewan.


The 12 rigs of Christmas:

On the first day of Christmas, my missus gave to me, Stampede Drilling Rig 1

On the second day of Christmas, my missus gave to me, Vortex Drilling Rig 1.

On the third day of Christmas, my missus gave to me, Red Dog Drilling Rig 3

On the fourth day of Christmas, my missus gave to me, Betts Drilling Rig 1

On the fifth day of Christmas, my missus gave to me, Horizon Drilling Rig 34

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