Joe Roughneck


Joe was created by a fella named Torg Thompson in 1952 to help Lone Star Steel and its advertising campaign. Joe quickly became the poster child for the entire oil and gas industry, sort of a figurehead, a symbol throughout America. This sumbitch is almost as old as I am, come to think of it.




There are statutes and busts of Joe Roughneck in parks and museums in oily places all across America. That is all very cool, yes sir.


So symbolic did Joe become that in 1955 the IPAA started awarding the annual Chief Roughneck Award to important people in our industry and over the years some really awesome guys received that recognition, men like Jake Hamon, W.A. Moncrief, H.L Hunt, Edwin Cox, Charlie Rowan, etc. Most of these men grew up in the oilfield and actually roughnecked...as in they actually may have gotten blisters, mud on their boots, that sort of thing.

The past 8-9 years, however, the deeper in debt you could drive your shale oil company the more likely it was you might receive the award and a good number of the recipients would not know which end of a workover rig to walk to. They all received this award for losing money hand over fist, selling out, filing bankruptcy, or paying themselves $20MM a year in compensation while all the above was occuring. Now the bronze bust, above, sits on their credenza right next to their starch white, perfectly clean plastic hard hat with their company logo on the front.

I'm not sure Joe would approve of some of his awards lately.

I really wasn't thinking about 'ol Joe when I drew this hand about 15 years ago but there are some similarities, I guess, right down the dent in his hard hat.


To qualify for my award you have to have grown up in the oilfield, not Boston. Your company can't be in debt and you would have to show that you made a profit in the industry, for four quarters in a row, don't lie about EUR's, pay your vendors within 30 days, have loyal employees you care about and don't take handouts from the Federal government while crying like titty babies for fewer regulations. If Jim Cramer ever called you a "wildcatter," you most likely won't be considered and if you use the words, data is the new oil in your application, it's going straight to the trash can.


You'll have to prove you drive a 4 wheel drive pickup with an actual tool box in it, with real tools. Special consideration will be given to applicants whose faces are cracked like road maps from sun and worry, who have had at least two broken bones from oilfield related mishaps and surgery on either their back, or shoulder, at least once. The more stitches you've had in your career, the better. We count MBA's AND callouses.


In a personal interview with the awards committee you will have to prove you can break one fitting out of another with 18's and cheater pipes...with no help. You'll have to know the annular volume between 2 3/8ths tubing and 5 1/2 casing in barrels per foot without googling it and you will have to look us in the eye and say, "I know what things cost because I actually own working interest in my wells," without flinching.


We'll be able to tell if your lying.


The "Hand" Award, in other words, will go to men and women of character who actually work, put honor, and family, first. Who are tough. Who represent the oilfield of old.


If you actually win my damn award it will be by God because you've earned it. I'll even bring it to you, personally...in MY pickup. We'll drink some scotch together and swap some oilfield stories.