FAIRBANKS, Alaska – The popular Gold Rush programs on the Discovery Channel of cable television are being expanded to include other resource-oriented shows. First among these new shows is one focused on the oil and gas industry. This seems an odd choice given the poor performance and massive unemployment now prevalent. However, the producers decided to take a chance that at some point the price of oil will make a recovery similar to that of gold. Yeah, right, don’t hold your breath.
Showrunner Auric Goldfinger of Gold Rush has recruited its best-known gold miner Parker Schnozzola to lead its production of Oil Rush. Schnozzola promises to apply the many lessons he has learned the hard way in gold mining to the extraction of oil and gas in Alberta and Alaska. For example, he learned that if you piss off your crew, they will not lift a finger to help get you out of trouble. Also, if you don’t maintain your machinery, it will break down at the most inopportune moment and it will be a part that is not in inventory anywhere in the western hemisphere.
The oil sands of Alberta are essentially a mining operation so that is where the first season of the program will take place. Schnozzola’s gold mining operation is basically stripping the overburden, scooping up the pay sand and the running it through a wash plant to concentrate and extract the gold. The same thing happens in an oil sand operation, except there is a final step of upgrading the bitumen into something refinable. The challenge for Schnozzola will be to operate an oil sand lease at a profit, a virtual impossibility in the current climate. The size of the equipment is an order of magnitude larger than what he is used to. One of the trucks he uses at his gold mine would easily fit into the bed of a Cat 796 AC dump truck and his excavators would fit into the bucket of a Komatsu PC8000.
Television critics are taking a wait and see attitude toward Oil Rush. Seeing giant machines occasionally explode is very entertaining but most of the people involved in the oil business are boring as hell. The producers will have to find the exceptions. Perhaps Andy Killinger would like to be on the show.