Oilfield Gate Guarding

By:  Kelly Barnett

16th Jan, 17


Looking to bring in some extra money? There are several ways to do that while living/traveling in your Heartland RV. I'd like to tell you about one way that we earn some 'play' money. In the winter months we work as gate guards in the Texas Oilfield.

We are starting our fourth year working in the oil patch. We usually work from October/November to April-ish. You can work as long or short as you want…it's up to you. The work is done out of your RV or a guard shack. If you work out of a guard shack sometimes your RV is also on site, but most of the time you park your RV at a nearby park and commute. If you're lucky, the gate guard company you work for will pay part of your lot rent.

Beautiful end to a day in the oil patch

Ok….so you're wondering, "What is a gate guard"? When an oil company contracts with a landowner to drill on their property the landowner has the option to ask that a 'gate guard' be posted at the entrance to their property to log/monitor the traffic that comes and goes while the oil company does their job. The gate guard is not necessarily there to log/monitor traffic but also to keep cattle from escaping, to keep unauthorized people from entering…or for some other unknown reason.

We log everyone entering and leaving the property and work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You set your own hours and do what works best for you as a couple. There are some exceptions to that…like if you're working in a guard shack.

Parked right on the pad at this gate

The job does require a Texas Private Security license which is fairly easily obtained and often your gate guard company will assist you in applying. You'll need a background check, fingerprints and you will need to pass an easy test…but you can start working before you receive the actual license. You just need to have applied.

There are several gate guard companies that you can hook up with…Gate Guard Services, Sitewatch, J&G and Guard 1 are just a few. I don't know that one is better than the other. You'll just have to 'feel' them out and go with recommendations from other guards and listen to your gut.

No matter which company you decide to work with they will 'support' you once they have assigned you to a gate. By support I mean that they will provide you with a generator, water & sewer and will maintain and service those while you're working.

Pay varies from company to company and from job to job but normally ranges from $125 per day (per couple) to $175 per day (per couple)…with busier gates seeing the higher end of that range.

Some gates have just one operation (frac, drill rig, pipeline, etc) going on and can be easily managed. Others might have several operations (more than one drill rig, frac, pipeline, workover rig and flowback, etc all at the same time). Thankfully we've never experienced a really crazy busy gate but know that they're out there.

Our first time working with a drilling rig....seen in the background

We are currently working a gate with a drill rig and have been here for almost 5 weeks. The rig crew is almost done drilling the three wells that were planned on this property. When they move to the next 'lease' we'll follow them and do it all over again.

We've worked all kinds of scenarios at this point but really enjoy working a gate with a drill rig as it's a slower pace, not a whole lot of traffic and we can really get to know the crew members as well as the different sales people who come in.

Jobs can last from a couple of days to months. We've worked gates that lasted just 3 days but have also been at the same location for as long as nine weeks. You just never really know what you might get.

Below you'll find a list of our pros and cons…someone else might list things differently.

Meet Daisy - the sweetest most curious horse...she loved to stand right on our mat and paw the steps to get us to come outside

Cons:

  • Dusty – South Texas is dry and dusty. Be prepared to have dust literally everywhere. If you're lucky a water truck will come by every now and again and 'water' the road which helps…for a little while.
  • Bad roads – The gate you're assigned may be 10 miles down a bumpy, holey, muddy road. You'll have to judge if you want to take your home/camper into that kind of situation. We are extra careful driving down these kinds of roads and really take our time.
  • Most often you are set up in a pasture of some sort. You may have cows, horses or other livestock wandering around your home. Cows are curious and love to chew on satellite cables or use your home as a scratching post.The presence of the animals is not necessarily a con...but their curiosity can be.
  • Snakes. Spiders. Scorpions. Wild boar. Deer. Mice. No need to say anything else.
  • Wear & Tear – Recently we had a big truck come into the gate and when it stopped it threw up a rock that hit our hallway window just perfectly. Thank goodness for dual pane windows!
Enrique and Jerry are a couple of our favorites from over the years

Pros:

  • Can't beat sitting at home in your recliner watching TV, surfing the internet, doing your daily chores, etc and getting paid for it.
  • Gifts from vendors or others – we've been gifted so many things – donuts, coffee mugs, fresh fruit, chocolate, steaks, homemade gumbo, cookies, pies, chips, juice, etc. The people who work in the oilfield are a generous lot.
  • Food from caterers – whenever the 'crew' has food catered in we are included. Steak, burgers, enchiladas, chicken, lasagna, spaghetti…it runs the gamut. We once worked a frac that lasted 35 days and were fed twice a day the entire time!
  • Friendships made with workers – This might be one of our favorite perks of the job. We get to know the people that pass through the gate and they become like family to us. It's a real treat when we move to another gate and have some of our 'regulars' come in and they remember us and we just start up where we left off.
  • Oh...and you CAN'T beat the south Texas sunrises and sunsets. They're some of the prettiest of I've seen.

The oil industry has been experiencing a drought for a couple of years now. During that time, we didn't encourage anyone to try out the gate guarding experience as things were just too iffy and jobs were hard to find. However, things are really starting to look up and there is even talk of an upcoming 'boom'. If you've ever thought of gate guarding or are just now hearing about it and think you might be interested in giving it a whirl…now's the time!


Kelly Barnett

Kelly Barnett


RV There Yet Chronicles

My husband, Michael, and I have been living fulltime in our 2011 Landmark Key Largo since April of 2011 and LOVE every minute of it. 

When Michael retired from the US Army in October of 2012 (after 29 years of service) we hit the road and haven’t looked back. 

We usually work in the south Texas oilfields in the winter and spend time with our two sons and their families in the summer. We travel and sight-see as much and often as possible.