Licence to drill  

Meet the Drillers

The whole crew

Travis Flexhaug

Floorhand

Travis is one of the oldest but one of the greenest hands on the Rig 6 crew. But as a former military man, he’s no stranger to teamwork. He’s determined to make it out here on the high paying rigs for the benefit of his family, but the work is taking him away from home for such long periods, he’s starting to have his doubts.

Hometown: Edmonton, AB
Experience: 1 years

I spent four years with the artillery in Manitoba. It’s almost the same kind of mindset.

Paul Randell

Drilling Superintendent

Having the first and final word for 8 of Penn West’s drilling rigs, Paul Randell is the man they call, day or night, when the trouble gets big. With over 20 years experience, Paul makes the decisions that no one else is willing or able to make. He works mostly from his office in downtown Calgary, but he doesn’t mind going into the field – and getting dirty on the rigs.

Hometown: Englee, NFLD
Experience: 25 years

This is our greatest year so far for meterage-wise.

Ely Ryan

Roughneck

Ely calls himself a poet, a rapper and a philosopher. He’s from New Jersey and out here on the oil patch he’s a long way from home. Ely’s antics often have a way of irritating some of his bosses, and keep getting him in hot water. He’s got a lot to learn - if he wants to keep working the rigs.

Hometown: Merchantville, New Jersey
Experience: 2 years

Hip hop is just the medium for me to cope with anything.

Tyson Linford

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At 18, Tyson is one of the youngest and greenest Leasehands on the oil patch. He’s ambitious and happy to work, even when it means cleaning every inch of the rig. He’s doing this to save for college, a story you hear from many of the young guys out here. But what does he want to study? Petroleum Engineering.1

Hometown: --
Experience: 1 years

Probably the rest of the week we’ll be sucking puddles, I’m guessing. Keep us busy.

John Williams

Field Supervisor

John’s been in the drilling business for three decades. While others have come and gone, he stayed with it, on it and ahead of it, every step of the way. He built his reputation drilling wells on time and on budget. Now he’s leaving the rigs behind for a new challenge and a new mission: to search out and find the next big score in oil rich Alberta.

Hometown: Cold Lake, AB
Experience: 29 years

The best part of this year’s work was working with many different drilling consultants and their personalities

Charlie Moxham

Geologist

A Geologist is one of the most important jobs in the oil industry, and Charlie’s one of the best. He studies the rocks and other materials found in core samples that come up from deep underground, and then tells Penn West where to drill. Without people like Charlie all the drilling technology money can buy would be useless.

Hometown: Calgary, AL
Experience: 8 years

Yeah, you can really smell the oil.

Chris Baehl

Drilling Supervisor

Chris is the rig’s Drilling Supervisor, but he also answers to a higher power: Penn West Petroleum who calls the shots from Calgary. His job: get the oil out of the ground and out to the world in the best, fastest and most cost effective way possible. He’s a Company Man, through and through – but make no mistake, he’s got years of know-how and what he says, always goes.

Hometown: Black Diamond, AB
Experience: 15 years

I grew up on a dairy farm. The transition to go from a farm to an oil rig was pretty straight forward.

Jeff Wilson

Derrickhand

Jeff thinks he deserves some real action. After twenty years working on the Oil Patch, he wants the rig’s top job: to be a Driller. The job means more respect and more money. But now that opportunity is knocking, he’s got to pass the tough exam for his Licence to Drill. And he’s only got two weeks to do it.

Hometown: Medicine Hat, AB
Experience: 20 years

You gotta keep your cool out there. If you're all flustered and stuff, guys make the wrong decisions.

Skye Nipshank

Roughneck

Skye caught a lucky break when a wannabe roughneck lost his nerve and quit without warning. With only a few weeks of rig work to his name, Skye jumps at the surprise promotion, until his hard to please boss puts him to a tough test. Now we’ll see if he has what it takes to make it in the Oil Patch. Or if he’ll be sent packing.

Hometown: Mission, BC
Experience: 1 years

It's not the funniest job in the world; it's pretty interesting though. I like it.

Colten Bosch

Driller

Rig veteran, and recently promoted Driller, Colten is one tough boss. Some say he comes on too strong, other’s say he’s got a mean streak a mile wide, but he’s quick to defend his style by pointing to his win-win record. Either way, few disagree; this dedicated rig man shows no signs of softening. Even when the oil rig starts drawing blood - from the man and from his marriage.

Hometown: Medicine Hat, AB
Experience: 7 years

Their life per se is in my hands. If I make one wrong move, I can definitely hurt somebody.

Jesse Halikas

Motorhand

21 year-old Jesse was a promising minor league hockey player. But that was another life, even if only a short while ago. Now he’s trying to be a team player on the rigs, grow up, and put his hockey career in the past. But some dreams die hard, and everyone wants to know: can Jesse focus on a workingman future, or will he answer to the distant call of sticks and ice?

Hometown: --
Experience: 2 years

There's many hockey players in the oil patch. The locker room situation feels like home to them.

Logan Wild

Drilling Supervisor

He’s an Oil Patch veteran, a dedicated Harley rider and a family man. Some call him the ‘Chuck Norris of the Oil Patch’, for his ninja-like ability to ‘see’ through his fingertips what the drill pipes are doing deep underground. Others just want to give him a big hug, because as tough and demanding as he might be on the rig, he’s just a teddy bear at home.

Hometown: Pierceland, SK
Experience: 20 years

How I come across to crews, is I’ll bend over backwards and I'll twist wrenches with you if you need me to.

Mickey Hempler

Highway Maintenance Supervisor

Mickey rules with a big stick. A measuring stick that dictates who and what can cross the ice bridges where the Mackenzie River and winter road intersect. From commanding barges and tugboats to building ice roads, Mickey’s got over 30 years of experience working with rivers. He knows that to guarantee a safe passage over the mighty Mackenzie, there’s no room for error.

Hometown: Fort Simpson, NT
Experience: 30 years

There’s lots of jobs you can shortcut your way through, but not when you’re building ice.

Kelly Pelsma

Driller

Equal parts rebel and whip-cracking boss, Kelly personifies the new breed of the Canadian Oil Patch. Works hard, plays hard, and leads by example. He’s worked on American rigs before – an 8-month stint in Colorado – so he hasn’t signed up to go down south for something new to do. He’s actually here to check out the old rigs... And he wont be disappointed.

Hometown: Edmonton, AB
Experience: 9 years

All right Louisiana! I’m from Alberta, I get down and dirty, let’s see how they get down and dirty.

Cody Wilson

Driller

Last season, Cody gave up drilling to take on the cushy position of rig manager. But don’t get fooled, this father of five is not afraid of hard work, and he’ll do whatever it takes to put food on the table. When opportunity knocked, and he was offered a job in Louisiana, he didn’t hesitate. Not bad for a guy who’s never set foot outside of Canada.

Hometown: Edmonton, AB
Experience: 14 years

I want to meet the crazy southern boys. I’ve seen Dukes of Hazzard! It’ll be fun to try and keep up with them.

Mike Bencz

Derrickhand

Mike is a second-generation oil field worker. His father used to be a derrick hand back in the seventies. That’s what Mike now does too but he wants more. His next move is to become a driller. And now that he’s married to lovely Yvette and the proud father of young Theodore, he's got plenty more reasons to make it happen.

Hometown: Edmonton, AB
Experience: 9 years

It’s spring break-up in Alberta. Instead of sitting at home, I decided to come down here and make some money.

Ryan "Hutch" Hutchinson

Motorhand

Hutch sort of stumbled into the oil patch. After high school, he trained to become a welder. That lasted for about six months until he decided it just wasn’t for him. So he got a job on a rig and he’s been paying his dues ever since. Hutch might get dirtier than most, but everybody agrees, he gets the job done. As Hutch puts it, he goes to work to work, not to complain.

Hometown: Kelowna. BC
Experience: 5 years

I like seeing new things. I want to buy a house later in the year and I can’t do it by sitting on my butt.

Lynn James

VP Renegade Drilling

Lynn built his drilling rig by hand in the back yard using old spare parts. He designed it to be the fastest around. He can move it, rig it up and be pushing the drill bit into the ground in a few short hours! He has a reputation as the John Wayne of the Oil Patch, complete with an iron stare, but this big-hearted southerner is fiercely loyal to his family and his rig crew.

Hometown: Winnfield, LA
Experience: 35 years

Renegade's about getting the job done fast. We are not pretty to look at, but we get the job done.

The Mockosher Twins

Tool Push - Driller / Roughneck

John & James were born two minutes apart and never go a day without seeing one another. They live side by side & even work on Lynn's rig together. They grew up next door to Lynn, watching Dukes of Hazzard, and the three have known each other for over 40 years. John got burned in an oil rig fire when he was 22 and it was Lynn that wrestled him to the ground to put out the fire.

Hometown: Winnfield, LA
Experience: 35 years

Lynn, that’s my boy. You mess with him, you mess with me. And I will get your attention. (John)

Coy McPherson

Roughneck

Coy will readily tell you he is the best rig hand in Louisiana! And though he’s trusted by the owner of the Renegade rig, the Tool Pushers are not convinced. His bad boy attitude often lands him in deep water. He’s a hit with the local ladies, but not so much with those he works with.

Hometown: Jena, LA
Experience: 5 years

I’m the best spinning chain around!

Justin “J-ROCK” Brixey

Drilling Superintendent, Justiss Oil

J-Rock, at only 32, is the Drilling Superintendent for Justiss Oil, a position usually held by men twice his age. When J-Rock shows up on the rig you can bet it’s because something has gone wrong. But rest assured, if anyone can fix a problem, it’ll be J-Rock.

Hometown: Jena, LA
Experience: 14 years

We’re drillin’ for oil!

Zach “Peanut” James

Driller

Peanut seems way too young to be the driller on the Renegade rig. But at 23, he already has 5 years experience under his belt. As the rig owner’s son he has a lot of pressure to learn as much as he can about drilling before he takes over. And working for his dad, that pressure sometimes gets personal.

Hometown: Winnfield, LA
Experience: 5 years

My father, we get into it sometimes but, you know, that’s just father and son.

DALTON “BOUDREAUX” DAVIS

Tool Push

Boudreaux is a lifer in the Louisiana Oil Patch. After a couple decades on the job, it’s no surprise he is the night shift Tool Push on the Renegade rig. With a “Cool Hand Luke” attitude he runs his crew, and the rig, with a steady, but firm, hand.

Hometown: Winnfield, LA
Experience: 20 years

After you’ve been in the oilfield for so long you can tell a hand from a wannabe-hand.