Monday, 12 July 2010

Gran Turismo

I've been on a road trip through Italy this week - something like 1800km in 3 days!

One of the guys from the office had to take one of the large sensors (about half the size of an upright piano) down to the most southerly region of Italy and since I hadn't seen this particular piece of hardware in action I got permission to tag along.

We shared the drive down from Milan to Bologna, onto Florence in Tuscany where the landscape is exactly like the pictures in the brochures, passed Rome and Naples (and the mightily impressive Vesuvius), and into the mountains of Basilicata to a small town called Villa d'Agri - 10 hours and 800km on the A1.

After overnighting in the lovely Kiris Hotel we drove up into the mountains to the rig, perched on a clifftop. Unfortunately my interaction was limited by an inflamed muscle in my back which prevented me from doing any heavy lifting, and by Italian Law which stopped me from doing light lifting. Without my assistance the mudlogging crew went about installing the cuttings weight sensor that we'd carted down with us,
and I returned to the hotel to rest my back.

The job went well, and on the next day we drove 250km north-eastwards over the mountains, covered in olive groves, and on to Lucera, a large town with a stunning medieval core, in the breadbasket of Italy. The rolling hills of lowlands were covered by lush fields of grain and plopped in the middle of a field was the second rig on our grand tour. We had a brief visit to the mudlogging unit and performed an inspection on a prototype filter that is part of the gas trap. Since there was plenty of daylight left to the day we decided to drive the 750km back to Milan.

The route along the A14 was 750km from start to finish and took us up the eastern side of Italy, following the coast of the Adriatic Sea and along the way we spotted half a dozen offshore production platforms diligently sucking hydrocarbons out of the bedrock. After so many years working in hundreds of kilometres out in the North Sea it was surprising to see so many rigs close to the shore. Surprisingly the entire coast is given over to bed resorts, and in the last rays of sunlight we could see the beaches were still busy so I suppose that the safety record on these rigs is admirable because any spills would be sure to wash up on the shore. It was almost the next day when we arrived back in Milan, and I got to enjoy a full two day weekend for the first time since I moved here. Good job too - I slept through most of it.

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