23 At the Tower
The sun glinted brightly off the steel scaffolding and the tall spires of the oil exploration rig and reflected on the cool blue water of the South China Sea. Several men in distinctive yellow hardhats waited impatiently for the motorboat to discharge it passengers. As they came off the gangplank, two figures broke away from the main group and headed towards the hardhats.
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One of the men waiting stepped forward to shake the hand of the new arrival, and introductions were made around.
"John, welcome to Ahmad Compliant Tower # 3." After shaking hands, he turned to the other men clustered around the pair.
"This is John, our new petroleum geologist from America. He's going to help us identify the best possible site to move the drilling rig." John was an older gentleman, with close-cropped salt-and-pepper hair. His jeans and red-checked shirt looked worn but comfortable, with a black swiss-style backpack across his back.
Behind him was a young woman with nondescript short brown hair, dressed conservatively in a dark blue dress pant and suit. She carried a metal briefcase in one hand, a large duffel slung over her right shoulder. He gestured her forward.
"This is Ani. She's in the final stages of her doctorate in geophysics and will be assisting me during this inspection." She nodded towards the group, but didn't say anything. "If you could show us where to stow our things, we can start the discussion soon after."
A short time later, they were all grouped together in a large conference room, featuring a simple industrial table and metal chairs. The simple furniture was belied by the complex audiovisual equipment dominated the rear of the room. A series of colorful slides were projected on a wall.
John stood next to the screen, flipping through a binder placed on the podium in front of him.
"I have reviewed the mudlogger's drill cutting and rock formations report, looked at the views of the seafloor for pockmarks, and checked the geophysical logs. I would recommend we perform our passive seismic and magnetic surveys in the area of Grid O-1c, and continue to Q-1d. The play in this area for hydrocarbons in place is approximately 50%, so it should be good for both oil- and gas accumulations. I recommend our first gas drill here." He pointed at a spot on the seafloor. A pleased murmur greeted the news, and, after a short question and answer period, the group dispersed, until there were only the two left.
The woman spoke for the first time, her voice an exotic mix of American and Samoan accents. "That went well, I think. I expect they'll start with the drilling by the end of the week." The older man nodded, scooped up the binder and neatly stored in into a leather portfolio, and the two of them headed for the conference room door.
"Ani, my dear, that's what we're counting on."