The trip to Badanah was uneventful, large stretches of the road have been improved and upgraded to a divided highway . This picture was taken in 1947 which shows the first road spread in action. The later asphalted road (1962 - 1964) is now well worn but has stood up to the heavy traffic reasonably well. I did notice that wherever Tapline has its microwave towers, there are now two additional towers not too far away that are used for Saudi Telephone and another one for an unknown purpose. There is also a fiber optics cable buried north of the old road as there are repeaters at regular intervals. So communications facilities have improved and the cellular phone system now covers the entire Northern Area. Quite a few new villages are now built up along the road. Nowhere is that more evident than in a satellite picture that shows the illumination of the world caused by artificial lights. (Photo from NASA archives) Take a look at this night picture of the Middle East and one can clearly make out the lights along the pipeline. starting from Hafar al Batin with KKMC south of it. Rafha area. Badanah with Judeideh on the Iraqi border to the north and Sakaka south of it and further west Turaif.
We stopped briefly at Uwaigilah.. The turbine like all the other turbines, except Riyatain, was sold as scrap in September 1997 for Sr. 35.000 or $ 9358. More about these sales later. The old site is covered with bits and pieces that were left behind by the removal crew. The town has grown but not as dramatic as the main towns near the stations. Along the way I noticed and remembered several major leaks that occurred in this area, notably Km. 362 where a longitudinal weld failed in 1971.
Badanah station is still complete and
it serves as the maintenance base for the entire pipeline. I was introduced to
the present "Tapline In Charge" Fahat B. Anizi. Fahat
who is an electrical engineer, came from Aramco, there are no old Tapline employees currently working
in Badanah other than Othman el Hajj who is still working in Communications ,
Abdel Latif Al Ruwaileh who used to work as a Shift Operator in Badanah
Pumphouse and is now the General Foreman and Fayez Khamsan who is Pumphouse
Supervisor and still handles Government Relations.
Community Center is complete, all kitchen facilities are in place.
The Industrial Area
is still the same, the only addition is a small mosque built just south east of the
old gas station. One of the waterwells is still in use and the Waterwell
rig is positioned over it. You guessed it, Mohanna employees rebuild the
Reda pumps and pull the pumps if and when required.
Driving around the station I noticed that the rear of the first house on the right in the Upper Housing area, the Reefer body where the TV
equipment used to be is still there !
Next stop was Jalamid. Here as in
Shubah and Uwaigilah, the turbines were removed and a lot of bits and pieces
were left behind. The main line station loops were cut just after the
station valves and capped so that all other lines such as the fuel system and
instrument lines were dead as well. Many of the lines are only partially
visible, being mostly buried by blow sand.
About 25 people attended the party, which was a very pleasant affair with plenty of good food that was ably prepared by Ashraf Ali's cross crafted employees !
The following are some of the pictures taken that evening.
At around 10 pm. we thanked Fahat for his hospitality and said Good Bye to all the guests. Khoder Ali then drove me to Turaif.