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Oilfield Terms and Oil Field Slang

"Go check the mud weight at the possum belly and write it on the report on top of the knowledge box in the doghouse". OK?

The origin of some oilfield terms is unclear but this colorful industry has it's own colorful language that can be  confusing to an outsider.

Here are a few of them from the drilling and production side of the industry. This is by no means an all inclusive list of oil well drilling terms, just some of the most colorful.

                                                        Terms Commonly Used In Oil and Gas Well Drilling and Production

Bell Nipple. An enlarged pipe at the top of a casing string that serves as a funnel to guide drilling tools into the top of a well.

Blowout. An uncontrolled release of underground pressure which can cost loss of life and property. A "wild well" is a blowout that is ablaze and has not been extinguished.

Cat Line. A smaller cable used with other equipment to move tools and drillstring components and to provide tension on the tongs or tightening or loosening connections.

Catwalk.  Platform below the vee door and slide that are used to stage pipe and tools to be lifted to the rig floor.

Doodlebugger. A seismic company employee conducting seismic surveys in the field.

Doghouse. Enclosure, usually on the rig floor where the crew can shelter from the weather.

Elevator. A hinged mechanism that may be closed around the drill pipe or other drillstring components to facilitate lowering them into the wellbore or lifting them out of the wellbore.

Frac Job. Operation that involves large pumps that force water or other fluids down the casing and out into the formation, fracturing it, so oil or gas can be released.

Fish. Any object that has been dropped or lost down the hole.

Flare. Device  located away from the drilling rig used to burn off gas that has been encountered and is flowing up the well bore, also the act of burning this gas.

Fishing. The act of using specialized tools lowered downhole on the drillstring to retrieve a fish.

Gas Buster. A separator vessel used to remove free or entrained gas from fluids circulated in the wellbore, such as drilling mud used during drilling operations.

Hand. A rig worker or service hand that has passed the "worm" stage and can work unsupervised.

Intelligent Well. An oil or gas well equipped with monitoring equipment and completion components that can be adjusted to optimize production, either automatically or with some human intervention.

Jackup Rig. A self-contained combination drilling rig and floating barge, fitted with long support legs that can be raised or lowered independently of each other.

Joint. A length of drill pipe. 

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Kick. An intrusion of pressurized gas into the wellbore that  causes drilling fluid to be displaced. Can be the prelude to a blowout.

Kill. To stop a well from flowing or having the ability to flow into the wellbore. Kill procedures typically involve circulating fluids out of the wellbore or pumping heavier mud into the wellbore, or both.

Knowledge Box. Metal box  in the doghouse containing the drilling report, pipe tally and other important papers.

Liner. A casing string that does not extend to the top of the wellbore, but  is anchored or suspended from inside the bottom of the previous casing string.

Monkeyboard. A Platform about midway up the derrick where the derrick man works and racks pipe.

Mud. Drilling Fluid

Mud Man. A drilling fluids technician responsible for formulating drilling mud or fluid.

Mud Logger. A service hand working for a Mud Logging company, often a geologist, that checks the cuttings from the drill bit for type of rock and traces of oil or gas and checks for concentrations of hydrocarbons in the drilling mud and notes these on a log, which is like a  foot by foot road map of the drilled well.

Nipple Up. To put together, connect parts and plumbing, or otherwise make ready for use. This term is usually reserved for the installation of a BOP or blowout preventer stack.

Overshot. A downhole tool used in fishing operations to engage  the outside surface of a pipe or tool. A grapple  or similar mechanism, on the overshot grips the fish, allowing application of tensile force and jarring action. If the fish cannot be removed, a release system within the overshot allows the overshot to be disengaged and retrieved.

Pig. A device with blades or brushes inserted into a pipeline or cleaning purposes. The pressure f the oil or gas behind pushes the pig along to clean out rust, wax, scale and debris.

Packer. A device used to seal off a certain part of the casing or well bore in order to pump cement, etc into a certain zone.

Pill. Often a concoction of fibers and special chemicals and polymers that is pumped downhole to stop drilling fluid from leaking into the formation being drilled.

Possum Belly. Mud tank or pit closest to the return line where drilling fluid is returned from downhole.

Pusher. See Tool Pusher

POOH. Abbreviation for "pull out of hole" or to trip out.

Roustabout. Any unskilled manual laborer on the rigsite. A roustabout may be part of the drilling contractor's employee workforce, or may be on location temporarily for special operations. Roustabouts are commonly hired to ensure that rig crew can continue to work on task of drilling the well instead of hauling objects or digging trenches.

Short Trip. An abbreviated retrieval of pipe out of, and then the replacement of same back into the wellbore. May involve pulling ten or more stands but not all of the pipe that extends to the bottom of the hole.

Show. The presence of oil or gas at a certain depth as indicated by gas or fluid coming up with the mud. Can indicate the well is productive.

Trip. Pulling all the drill pipe out of the hole or running pipe into the hole. Done when bits are changed, mud motors, etc are changed, casing liners are added, or when the well is done or needs to be logged with a wireline unit.

Underbalanced. Situation where the drilling "mud" or fluid is not sufficient to hold back underground pressures that may be encountered.

Vee Door. The upside down V-shaped opening in one side of the derrick that enables long pipes and tools to be lifted up onto the rig floor This opening is aligned with the slide and catwalk of the rig.

"Worms" or rookies are often tricked by being told to "go find the key to the V Door".  Since none exists, it is loads of fun for the broke out hands.

Weight Up. To add weight, typically by adding barite to the drilling mud.

Worm. An inexperienced oilfield worker that is not yet a "hand". Worm's may be required to wear orange hard hats or stickers that say "new on job".

Zip Collars. Drill collars (usually straight drill collars) that have been machined with a reduced diameter at the box (up) end so that they may be more easily handled with open-and-close elevators.

Just like the oil and gas industry, slang used in the oilfield is always changing as new technology is developed. I'll be posting some new oilfield terminology relating to horizontal drilling on this page in the coming weeks so check back with us.

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