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Authors: Ben Coes

Tags: #Thriller, #Suspense, #Mystery

Power Down

BOOK: Power Down
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POWER DOWN

POWER DOWN

BEN COES

ST. MARTIN

S PRESS
  
  
NEW YORK

CONTENTS

TITLE

COPYRIGHT

DEDICATION

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

CHAPTER 36

CHAPTER 37

CHAPTER 38

CHAPTER 39

CHAPTER 40

CHAPTER 41

CHAPTER 42

CHAPTER 43

CHAPTER 44

CHAPTER 45

CHAPTER 46

CHAPTER 47

CHAPTER 48

CHAPTER 49

CHAPTER 50

CHAPTER 51

CHAPTER 52

CHAPTER 53

CHAPTER 54

CHAPTER 55

CHAPTER 56

CHAPTER 57

CHAPTER 58

 

EPILOGUE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

POWER DOWN
. Copyright© 2010 by Ben Coes. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

 

Design by Phil Mazzone

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Coes, Ben.

Power down / Ben Coes. — 1st ed.

        p. cm.

ISBN 978-0-312-58074-2

1. Special forces (Military science)—Fiction. 2. Terrorism—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3603.O2996P69 2010

813'.6—dc22

2010029176

First Edition: October 2010

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

FOR SHANNON

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

To Aaron Priest, Nicole Kenealy James, Frances Jalet-Miller, Lisa Erbach Vance, Lucy Childs Baker, Arleen Priest, and John Richmond at the Aaron Priest Agency, thank you for believing in me, for helping to improve what I came to you with, for fighting for me. To Sally Richardson, Matthew Shear, George Witte, Matthew Baldacci, John Murphy, Kathleen Conn, and everyone at St. Martin’s Press, thank you for your confidence. To Keith Kahla, my brilliant editor at St. Martin’s Press, thank you for all you have done. I now understand why so many authors have relied upon your sage advice as they strived to create great thrillers. To Ed Stackler, thank you for your editorial brilliance, your patience, your steadfast belief, your sense of humor, and above all else, for your friendship.

To my military buddies who helped me immeasurably: David Urban, Brian Shortsleeve, Patrick Mastan, Tom Charron, and Darren Moore, thanks, guys. Edith Pepper Goltra, thank you. Sophie Cottrell and Reagan Arthur at Hachette: I am grateful for your guidance and help. To the real Teddy Marks, my godfather, who was a Navy SEAL in Vietnam, thank you. To my brother, Putnam Coes, thank you for helping me nail the hedge fund stuff. To my mom, Susan Coes, who encouraged my writing from the time I could hold a pencil in my hand, thank you.

To my family: Charlie, who lugged steaming cups of coffee up the stairs to me as I pounded away on the keyboard those cold winter mornings. Teddy, who played the piano so beautifully for me as I wrote.
Oscar, who climbed onto my lap wearing his sleepers to snuggle and keep me warm. Esmé, who was born in the middle of it all, a gift from God. I wrote this for you guys. I’m just sorry you won’t be allowed to read it until you’re at least eighteen.

To Shannon, my beautiful wife, I simply could not have done this without you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver;
I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

—I
SAIAH
48:10

POWER DOWN

1

CAPITANA TERRITORY
PACIFIC OCEAN
AT 290 MILES OFF THE COAST OF COLOMBIA

A hundred miles above the equator, a day’s trip by boat from the nearest land, in a place where ocean currents collide beneath a vast horizon of black water and starry sky, a 1,500-foot double flame helix smoldered furiously from the cap end of an alloy gas fountain.

It was midnight. The flames could be seen for miles in all directions, interrupting the desolate waters in spectacular orange and black clouds. Though the billowing smoke and fire had the appearance of chaos, they were in fact controlled blazes created by the western hemisphere’s largest offshore oil platform, burning off the lighter layer of natural gas that floated like helium above the denser, more valuable petroleum that the $8 billion rig had been built to extract.

This was Capitana Territory, the largest oil strike ever outside of the Arabian Peninsula, a 68 billion barrel reservoir—a “megagiant” in oilman’s terms—beneath a section of seabed off the western coast of South America. It was discovered less than a decade before by a medium-sized Texas oil company called Anson Energy, now a juggernaut even among the largest energy companies in America.

A tall bearded man with the name
ANDREAS
stitched to his denim
shirt observed the flame stacks from the steel deck below. His brown hair was long, tousled, and hadn’t seen shampoo for days. Startling blue eyes and a sharp, tanned nose pierced out from behind a mess of mustache and overgrown beard. This was a handsome man who didn’t care what he looked like, or what his crew thought. He finished a cigarette and flicked it down into the dark ocean below the platform.

If this had been a paper mill in the forests of Maine, Dewey Andreas would have been called plant manager. At a steel mill in Pennsylvania, he’d have been called gang boss. But this was an offshore oil rig, and the four hundred and twenty roughnecks who lived and worked here around the clock, faces and clothing layered in grease, salt, sweat, and oil, called Dewey gang chief. Or simply “Chief.”

Most of the roughnecks on Capitana didn’t like Dewey Andreas, but they all respected him. On the rig his word was law. Dewey had gotten his oil-drilling education in northern Europe, on the rickety, death-defying derricks off the bitter cold North Sea shelf. He ran Capitana like a U.S. Marine colonel runs a battalion during wartime, with uncompromising discipline, rapid-fire decisiveness, and absolute autonomy. Dewey’s eyes told his men that he wasn’t about to put up with shit from anyone. He backed up that look with a pair of massive arms, muscled from years of hard platform work, buoyed by a pair of fists that were ready and willing to be put to use in the constant challenge every gang chief on every offshore oil rig in the world faces: keeping the animals at bay.

Dewey didn’t tolerate weakness, imperfection, laziness, or insubordination. If you crossed him, you could expect to pay for it with your job, or worse. Rumors circulated among the men about Dewey’s capacity for brutality and violence. Still, the pay was extraordinary for the uneducated collection of ruffians who worked Capitana Territory.

The platform Dewey stood on was the central superstructure for all of the territory. The facility itself was a massive industrial city of pipes, metal, ladders, and controlled flame stacks that rose on thick steel stilts out of the dark waters of the Pacific Ocean like a centaur.

In the distance, a series of more than thirty smaller, unmanned tension leg platforms dotted the landscape. These “mini-TLPs” fed into
the central Capitana facility and helped create a steady gusher of oil ready for transport to refineries throughout North America. Capitana was the central juncture in a spiderlike network of pipes that lay across more than a hundred and forty square miles of seabed some six hundred feet below the ocean’s surface. More than two thousand insertion pipes spread out across the dark and cold seabed below. It was through these pipes that a crude, dense, and immensely valuable mixture of natural gas and oil bubbled up and coursed into the central pumping station beneath Capitana, where it was separated, then pushed upward to the surface.

Capitana’s interweaving pipes, flare booms, and steel decking looked like a monstrous erector set. The flames never ceased. Yet Dewey found something peaceful in the dense orange inferno. The flames told Dewey that his rig was performing.

He walked to the marine deck and stared at the flame stacks one last time before heading inside to his office. He was tired but wanted to look at throughput reports before they were sent off to corporate headquarters in Dallas. These monthly reports tracked the volume of oil pulsing out of the Capitana reservoir.

The November throughput report for Capitana Territory showed why the field was so critical. In the thirty-day November cycle, Capitana had produced 54.6 million barrels of oil. This meant annual throughput of approximately 650 million barrels. The average per barrel extraction-to-market expense was $19 for other oil companies. Dewey’s men could do it for $11—an $8-per-barrel cost savings. That $8 along with oil prices averaging $55 per barrel meant net profits of more than $7 billion from Capitana Territory this year. That $8 bought Dewey a lot of leeway in the way he was allowed to run his rig.

It was past midnight. Dewey watched as the confirmation ticker from the fax came through, indicating that his reports had made it to Anson headquarters in Dallas, landing on the desk of a man he’d never met named McCormick.

He reached behind him and took a book off the shelf, a thick, hardcover edition of
Moby-Dick
that he kept with him. He’d never actually read it, but he kept it with him because behind it he could hide a bottle
of Jack Daniel’s. He unscrewed the cap and took a large gulp.
In a minute or two
, he thought,
he would head to his adjoining cabin for the night
.

BOOK: Power Down
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