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Oil Field Lingo

From 1899 to 1939, Oklahoma was one of greatest petroleum producing areas in the world. Much of the prosperity and quality of life we have in Oklahoma is owed to the wealth produced during this golden era of petroleum and to subsequent discoveries of oil and natural gas in the state. The early oil fields also founded a language or lingo of their own. Below is the first of a three-part series of oil field terms and definitions. This information was taken from the teachers' guide materials in our Petroleum Education Trunk. Air Jammers: Know it all types Biscuit Cutter: A drill bit Bleed: To drain off water at bottom of oil storage tank Boll Weevil: inexperienced worker on drilling rig or in roust about gangs Boomtown: A town experiencing phenomenal growth due to oil discovery. Bulldog Spear: A fishing tool. Bull Scout: person who directs information-seeking activities in an area.

Bull Wheel: On cable tool rigs, was used for lowering casing, bits, and tools.

Casing: Heavy steel pipe that comes in joints or sections. Cathead: A pulley winch used in drilling (a cat driver is the person who operates a caterpillar tractor) Coffeepot: A steam drilling rig. Crowfoot: a removable pronged plate on the outside of the boiler. Darb: derived from the name of boomtown blues singer Ruby Darby, it grew to mean something special, as in "it's a real darb." Dead in a hurry: hauler of nitroglycerine. Devil's Pitchfork: name for fishing tools, also cherry picker, junk basket, alligator grab. Digger: a driller (on an evening or graveyard tour, he is a night digger). Dog House: a toolhouse or primitive office on or adjacent to the rig floor. Dogleg: applies to almost anything that is crooked, i.e. a piece of equipment or a hole.

Don't let that pig iron eat you: old safety warning.

Duck's nest: a firebox in a boiler.

Fishing: trying to recover tools lost in the drill hole.

Fishtail: a bit used for shale and other soft formations in rotary drilling.

Grief Stem: a heavy, square pipe that works through the square hole in the rotary table that drives the drill stem, also a kelly.

Ground stomper: person in seismograph crew who places the spread of the geophone detectors.

Gun barrel: a tank used for settling out salt water and other impurities in oil.

Hickory nut: an old-time employee.

Independent: and oil man who operates on his own with no stock holders or big bureaucracy , someone engaged almost solely in exploration, drilling production.

Jackknife: portable derrick.

Jar Head: cable driller, also rope choker.

Killing a well: oil and gas temporarily blocked off in hole so work may be done on a well.

Lazy bench: where derrick rig workers sit during breaks.

Lease Hound: Someone who obtains oil leases, i.e. a landman.

Mud Gun: Length of a pipe through which mud is pumped under pressure to obtain proper

weight and consistency for rotary drilling.

Mud Hog: Pump used in rotary drilling to circulate the drilling mud fluid through the drill stem.

Pebble puppy: a fresh from college geologist. Platform: the base on which an off shore rig is erected. Pulled: removing casing or pipe from a well. Punching Holes: to drill for oil, as in "He's out punching holes in the ground." Rat hole: A slanting hole into which the grief stem is lowered while adding drill pipe to the drill string. Rig: includes the engine, pumps, draw works used in drilling, particularly in rotary drilling. Rock hound: A geologist. Roughneck: Laborer on a rotary rig. Roustabout: Laborer on an oil lease. Scientist: Anyone-whether a roustabout or an engineer-with college training. Seep: as in oil seep, places where oil literally squeezes out of the ground. Setting: refers to placing casing, or pipe, in a well. Spider: a heavy, steel frame over the mouth of the hole in rotary drilling. Stove pipe: welded or riveted casing Stripper: a small-volume but steadily producing oil well. Swivel Necks: rotary drillers Thief: an instrument for removing oil samples from a tank. Thief sand: a stratum of sand encountered in drilling that absorbs oil from richer strata. Three-D Seismic: Use of seismic waves to create a three-dimensional image of subterranean rock formation. Tool Dressers: Helpers on a cable tool rig. Tool pusher: foreman of the drilling crew. Tour: an eight-hour shift. (Paul Bradley, an OHS member from Winfield, Illinois, wrote to let us know that we should have pointed out that the word "tour" was pronounced "tower." Mr. Bradley also observed that "it was by no means an eight-hour shift. The old timers remember it as a twelve-hour shift, midnight to noon and noon to midnight. My father said that when the depression began, they changed initially to 8-hour shifts and subsequently to six-hour shifts . . . as a 'spread the work' measure." Tulsey town: Tulsa, State's second largest city. Wildcat: a test well drilled on unproved land. Wildcatting: the process of drilling exploratory wells.


The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book

Oklahomans Vol 2 :

Statehood - 2020s

which can be purchased HERE.

View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.

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