Asphalt: A heavy oil used on the surface of roads.
The oil is so heavy that it is considered a soft solid.
Bitumen: Petroleum that exists
in the semisolid or solid state in natural deposits
Blowout: The oil, gas, and water deep within the ground is under a lot of pressure.
Drilling for petroleum resources will release the pressure, and the oil and
gas will move up. The force of the pressure of the petroleum may be so
great that the mud used within the drilling pipe will be blown out and the
oil and gas will fly high in the air. A blowout can be a major
Blowout Prevention System: Found on a drilling rig, it is the seal around the drill pipe
hole that prevents blowouts.
Crude Oil: The oil that comes out of a well is a mixture of different
heavy and light oils, as well as other substances, like impurities, mixed in.
Crude oil derives it name because it has not been processed to remove the
extra unwanted substances. After it’s gone through a refinery, where impurities are taken out
and the different oils are separated, it becomes refined oil.
Circulating Fluid, Circulating System: see Mud
Core Drilling; Core Sample: Sometimes a drilling rig doesn’t grind up
the rock; instead it pulls up long cylinder-shaped rocks called core samples.
Geologists study these core samples to see if there might be oil under the
Cracking: At an oil refinery, big heavy molecules may be cracked in
half to make twice as
many smaller molecules. Crude oil doesn’t have enough gasoline for all our
cars, so heavier molecules are often cracked to make gasoline.
Crude Oil: The oil that comes out of a well is a mixture of many
different oils, from light gasoline to the more heavy, sticky bitumen. It’s called
crude oil until it gets to a refinery.
Derrick: The tall part of a drilling rig is the derrick.
Derrickman: The workman who spends most of his shift up in the derrick
Derrickman’s Runaround: The derrickman has a walkway up the
derrick, called the runaround.
Devonian Reef: A reef that formed in the sea during the Devonian
period, the “Age of Fishes” (395 to 345 million years ago) can be called a
Devonian reef. Until the Devonian reefs were found at Leduc in 1947, oilmen
thought that you could not find oil from that time period. The town of Devon,
Alberta, is named after this.
Diesel: Diesel is a type of oil that is heavier than gasoline and
kerosene, but lighter than fuel oil. Big trucks usually use it for fuel, and
some cars do too.
Downstream: In the oil industry, downstream refers to the
industry that deals with refining the oil and gas, and distributing them to
Drill Bit: The drill bit is the part of a rig that is below the
ground, grinding up the rocks.
Driller: On a drilling rig, the man in charge of a shift is the
Dry Hole: A drilling situations in which a well does not find oil or gas (or water, if the men
were looking for water), the well is a considered a dry hole
Floorhand: A drilling rig usually has two floorhands (also called
roughnecks) who do much of the heavy work at a well site.
Fuel Oil: Fuel oil is heavier than gasoline, kerosene, and diesel.
Cities that are a long way from natural gas wells often heat their buildings
with fuel oil.
Gas (1): When molecules can’t hold onto each other tightly enough to
make a solid or a liquid, they bounce around loosely, crashing into each
other and bouncing off again. We call this a gas. The air we breathe is a
mixture of gases. Another word
for gas is vapour.
Gas (2): In Canada and the United States, gasoline is often called gas for
short. It’s a liquid, not a gas.
Gasoline: A light oil that is used as fuel for cars.
Geologist: A scientist who studies the earth’s crust and its history.
Geophysicist: A scientist who makes pictures of rock formations
beneath the surface of the earth.
Hoisting System: The part of a drilling rig that lifts, holds and
lowers heavy pipes. The derrick is part of it.
Hydrocarbon: A term used for oil and natural because they are both
made up of molecules of hydrogen and carbon.
Impervious Rock: A rock that does not hold water, oil, or gas because
it is impermeable.
Kerosene: A light oil, but heavier than gasoline.
It is often used to light kerosene lamps.
Leduc #1: Alberta’s oil industry “got off the ground” in 1947, with
the discovery of oil in an area southwest of Edmonton. The well was called Imperial
Leduc #1, because Imperial Oil was the oil company, Leduc was the nearest
town, and it was the first in that area.
Logging Crew: In the oilpatch, a logging crew has nothing to do with
lumber. They send a logging tool down a well: a steel tool, 7-8 cm. in
diameter, up to 5 metres long. It has gadgets that read things in the rock.
The logging crew log the results.
Methane: The lightest hydrocarbon, it is the main component in natural
gas. Each molecule is made up of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms.
Mineral Rights: A farmer who owns his own farm owns the surface
rights--that is, he owns what is on the top of the land. He probably does not
own what is beneath the surface. A person or company or government who owns the
mineral rights to a piece of land, owns the minerals found
underneath the ground--such as metals, coal or oil. In Alberta, the province
owns most of the mineral rights.
Molecule: Every substance is made up of tiny particles called molecules. They are very tiny; much too small to be seen even under a microscope. Molecules are
made up of atoms, sometimes just one atom, sometimes very many atoms. The
molecular composition of oil and
gas are atoms of carbon and hydrogen.
Motorman: The man in charge of the motors at a drilling rig.
Mud: The special circulating fluid that circulates from the mud tanks,
down the drilling pipe, around the drill bit, and back up the outside of the
pipe. It is a mixture of bentonite clay, water and chemicals.
Mudman: The man in charge of the mud (circulating fluid) at a wellsite
is the mudman.
Natural Gas: A fuel, made mostly of methane, that is often used to
heat homes. In comparison to gas made from coal or oil, because there is not
a gas well made, natural gas is found naturally in the earth.
Oil Sands: In northern Alberta, oil has seeped to the surface over a
huge area. The lighter oils have evaporated, leaving the thick, tarry oils
mixed with the sands. This area is known as the Athabasca Oil Sands.
Paraffin: A soft hydrocarbon used to make
candles. At the bottom of an oil well, where it is very hot, it is a liquid,
but as it comes up to the surface, it cools down and turns into a solid and
sticks to the pipes. Oilmen have to clean their pipes of paraffin.
Pig: When a pipeline gets coated on the inside with paraffin, oilmen
send a machine called a pig through the pipeline. The name is derived
from the pig squeal sound the older machines used to make as they travelled
through the pipes.
Pipeline: Although expensive to build, the cheapest way to transport oil and natural gas
is through pipelines.. The Interprovincial Pipe Line, from Edmonton to New
York State, is the longest in the world.
Plastics: The word plastic really means something that can be molded
into a permanent shape. Today we use the word to mean the vast number of
man-made products that can be made from crude oil
Porous Rock: Rock that has holes in it, so it can hold
oil, water and gas.
Pump Jack: A machine that contains a moving up and down head to pump oil out of a well. The three main
parts of a pump jack are the horse’s head, saddle bearing and tail
Refine: The process where different kinds of oils are separated from
one other, and anything that is not oil is removed.
Refinery: The place where oil is refined. Oil refineries are usually huge clusters of buildings and vessels.
Rotary System: The system that twists the drill
bit on a drilling rig.
Roughneck: Another name for a floorhand on a drilling rig.
Sedimentary Rocks: Rocks composed of
layers of sediment. Usually sand, mud, plants or animal material pile up in
Seismograph: The instrument used to measure sound wave echoes as they
travel through the rocks when a geophysicist sets off an explosion.
Service Rig: The type of rig installed after a packed up and moved out
drilling rig. The service rig crew run tubing down inside the casing, and
prepares the well for perforating. This rig may also return to correct any
production problems the well may have.
Sour Gas: Natural gas that contains hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is called sour.
It has a terrible smell, and is poisonous, but the sulphur in it is valuable.
One-third of Alberta’s natural gas is sour.
Sulphur: A yellow non-metallic element that occurs naturally as a
solid. When sulphur mixes with hydrogen, we have hydrogen sulphide. See sour
Toolpush: The rig manager, the man in charge of a drilling rig.
Vapour: Another term for gas.
Wildcat Well: If you don’t know if oil or gas can be found in an area,
but drill anyway, you are drilling a wildcat well. Leduc #1 was a wildcat
well. Leduc #2, and all the other wells in the Leduc area, were not wildcat
wells, they were development wells. Nine wildcat wells out of ten turn out to
be dry holes.
This glossary was developed by The Black Gold Regional Division No. 18 and
teachers Margaret Lyall, Kimberly Epp and Robina Baker.
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