Yes, my incredible jet-set lifestyle never lets up. Here I am, in the famous
We fly from
We eat goatburgers (nominally beef, but we have our suspicions) and chips, and spend the afternoon scoping out the sites we’re going the take the trip to. At the first one, a pipeline is being laid by the side of the main road, and the area seems to have become a work site and general rubbish dump, but we think we can spend some time looking at early syn-rift stratigraphic relationships there. The second stop is part of Paul’s study area, and as such is plagued with Bedouin marijuana (‘bango’ in Egyptian Arabic) growers. Last time we were here, there was a very large bango field, but as usual the Bedouin were happy enough once they knew who we were and what we were doing. We need to check out the area to make sure that no-one is going to think we’re army or police and shoot us. This is the kind of thing I still can’t quite believe I’ve found myself doing. Today, though, the area is quiet, not a soul to be seen, and it seems that we can use this site as well.
By now, on a good two and a half hours sleep, I’m done thinking for the day, so we repair to
Wednesday March 5th
So far so good. We spent yesterday checking out some of the sites we’re going to visit on the trip, to make sure the roads are OK and that there is no bango. It’s all good, except on Thursday we have to go through the police checkpoint outside Abu Zenima. We don’t particularly want to do that, because Sayed doesn’t have a desert pass and we only have tourist passes, but a road is blocked and we don’t have any options.
The field trip people arrive today. We go out in the morning to look at one of the sites we’ll visit, and arrive back at
We manage to get away from
Even so, I manage a couple of beers with the field trip people, and eat some
Thursday March 6th
Wadi Nukhul today, which is really my show, given that I’ve spent the last two and a half years working on it. We start by looking at some minor faults in the footwall of one of the major block-bounding structures. There’s a spectacular detachment horizon where the faults flatten out into a clay-rich layer. We go to the Wadi Nukhul east face, and as we drive we see a Bedouin hiking through the desert with a Kalashnikov. Who knows where he was going and why he needs a gun for the journey. He waves at us, in our fleet of brand new black jeeps, cheerily enough. The east face is one of the best bits of geology you’re ever likely to see. The participants are impressed.
Then we go for a walk through the type section of the Nukhul Formation, but no-one seems particularly interested in that. Perhaps none of the companies are targeting it, or perhaps it’s the heat, but it’s not setting pulses racing. In the afternoon, we look at the Nukhul fault zone itself, and look at the west face. It’s spectacular stuff, and colourful, and I would say that there are few better examples of rift initiation stratigraphy and structure anywhere.
Friday March 7th
Today is ‘Wadi Baba and the faulted
We finish the day at the cableway terminus, where both
At the checkpoint before Abu Zenima, one of the secret policemen wants to stop us, but his colleague tells him we’re from an onshore drilling rig that is on the Baba Markha plain not far from the checkpoint. Sayed says the magic word ‘petrole!’ and they let us through. Another good day, and no more checkpoints now until we head to
At dinner, a couple of the guys tell me that they’ve got a lot out of the trip, more than most trips they’ve been on, which is good to hear. You want people to get something out of it.
Sunday 9th March
The final day of the trip goes OK, although we haven’t really rehearsed what we’re going to do at the last stop. I try to summarise what we’ve done on the trip, but I’m totally knackered, and it doesn’t come over too well. The rocks we see are largely calc-arenites, not good reservoir rocks, and the reservoir engineer gets glummer as the day progresses.
We get back to
Just after we get to
We get back to
We get to