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Do you know your oil industry jargon?

Posted by: Simon Stearn
07/09/2016
Bell nipple. Bottom hole assembly. Blowout.

At first glance these words may appear to be unusual, strange or even rude (depending on your mind set). But read on and you’ll find out that they are just a few of the more interesting examples of the rich jargon and terminology that is used on oilfields, rigs and platforms everyday across the globe.

We’ve pulled together some of our personal favourites that we’ve encountered here at Fircroft, so scroll down and have a look at our selection so that the next time a colleague asks you to “Go check the mud weight at the possum belly and write it on the report on top of the knowledge box in the doghouse” you’ll at least have half-an-idea as to what they are talking about...

Bell nipple – A pipe that acts as a funnel to guide drilling tools into the top of the well. It’s usually fitted with a side outlet to allow drilling fluids to flow back over the shale shakers to the mud tanks. The name comes from a short length of pipe, also known as a nipple, which is flared out, or belled, to act as the funnel for guiding tools into the hole.
 
Big bear – Is a hitch that lasts a minimum of 50 straight days. (See hitch)
 
Blowout - The uncontrolled flow of gas, oil or other fluids from a well occurs if pressure control systems fail – uncapped wells could shoot oil up to 200 feet in the air. A blowout primarily composed of natural gas is known as a ‘gas gusher’.

Bottom hole assembly – Is a component of a drilling rig. It is the lowest part of the drill string, extending from the bit to the drill pipe. The assembly can consist of drill collars, subs such as stabilisers, reamers, shocks, hole-openers, and the bit sub and bit.
 
Derrick - A heavy lifting device supported by a crane structure. The name is said to originate from a 17th century English gallows and the surname of a London hangman.
 
Derrick Apples
- small components of the ‘Derrick’ that fall to the floor. Including nuts, bolts, and washers.
 
Doglegs - A particularly crooked section of a well, sometimes created intentionally by directional drillers but more commonly used to refer to a section of the hole that changes direction faster than anticipated. The term dogleg comes from the angle resembled by the hind leg of a dog.
 
Fish - Once an item is lost down the wellbore it is simply referred to as a ‘fish’. The act of fishing is the process of using specialised tools to retrieve a ‘fish’.
 
Ginsel – A ‘Roughneck’ worker, often someone with no oilfield experience. It’s the bottom of the pecking order in seniority terms.
 
Hitch - Rig employees refer to their working period as a ‘Hitch’. Commonly 20 days on followed by 10 days off.
 
Pig - A device inserted into a pipeline for cleaning purposes (Pipeline Inspection Gauge). The act of using a ‘pig’ is called pigging. Originally Pigs were made from straw wrapped in wire, the squealing noises they made whilst travelling through the pipe. This is believed to be what originally led to the name ‘Pig’.
 
Pig launcher – Although a suitable name for an Angry Birds style app, a pig launcher is actually an oversized section of the pipeline which, when closed, pushes the pig down the pipeline using pressure. The pig is pushed down until it reaches the ‘pig catcher’.
 
Roughneck - A manual labour member of an oil rig team. Often part of the drilling crew. The term ‘roughneck’ has been used as a symbol of hard work and resilience by sporting teams including the Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse team and the Tulsa Roughnecks of the North American Soccer League.
 
Tour – A working shift. Most workers worked a 10 to 12-hour shift, six days a week.

Slugcatcher- A slugcatcher is the name of a unit in a gas or petroleum refinery in which slugs at the outlet of pipelines are collected or caught. A slug is a large quantity of gas or liquid that exits in the pipeline.
 
Elephant – An elephant is an oil field that contains more than 100 million recoverable barrels of oil.
 
Nodding Donkey – Another name for a pumpjack, an overground drive for a reciprocating piston pump in an oil well. Also known as a horsehead pump, rocking horse, grasshopper pump, big Texan or thirsty bird to name but a few.
 
Fish eye - A slang term for a globule of partly hydrated polymer (gel) caused by poor dispersion during the mixing process (commonly a result of adding the product too fast).
 
Mule shoe - A Mule Shoe is a small tube that is attached on the bottom of a drill string. Its primary use is to remove mud, sand and other particles from a borehole.
 
Pony rod – A rod that’s slightly shorter than usual, placed below the polished rod and used to make a rod string of a certain length.
 
Monkey board – A small platform that the derrickman stands on when tripping pipe.
 
Possum Belly – A metal container at the head of a shale shaker that receives the flow of drilling fluid. It’s believed to have derived its name from the under belly of a female possum as they look similar in appearance.
 
So there you have it, our favourite selection of oil industry jargon. Are there any terms that we’ve missed out on this list that you still use today or perhaps used in the past but are now dying out? We’d be interested to hear them! Drop us a comment below or send us a message on social media.
 
Recent Comments
Some still need to be added to your list Dog House, Floorhand Fingers Fish Kill Mousehole Rathole Swabbing..etc
shahram vatanparast, 08 September 2016
A Nine Line Bind - Any difficult problem. Older drilling rigs had wire and pulleys to lift the drill string. There were typically 9 wire ropes that ran through the top pulley (crown). If all nine lines were tangled it was called a nine line bind. This came to mean any difficult problem on the rig.
Scott Hayes, 08 September 2016
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