Going down deep: The mechanics of oil drilling

There are several factors involved in drilling just one oil well and the following are just some of the basic processes:

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Finding the oil:
Oil is formed underground through years of decomposition of living material and exposure to heat and pressure. It is the task of geologists to find the right conditions for an oil well. Geologists survey and analyze an area on the Earth’s surface features, terrain, and rock and soil types, as well as the Earth’s magnetic and gravitational fields.

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Preparing for the drill
Once the oil is found, the area will be marked and prepared for drilling by buoys for water and GPS coordinates for land. Legal permits are obtained, stipulating the measurements of the area, lease agreements, titles, and the extent any impact the drilling will have on the environment. With the permits in place, the area will then be leveled, and access roads built. A water source is located or if there is none, a well will be dug. Reserve pits will be dug too. These will be used to dispose of rock cuttings and drilling mud. It should be lined with plastic to protect the environment.

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Actual digging
Once the land is prepared, the crew digs holes to place the rig and the main hole. A rectangular pit is dug to act as a workspace for the drill crew. A drill truck will then be used to drill a starter hole—shallower and wider than the future main hole. Using the rig, dig the main hole. A casing pipe is inserted into the hole that will be used to pump cement. This protects the hole from collapsing. Once the hole is deep enough, the crew can now set up for the extraction.

Brian Alfaro is the founder and president of Primera Energy LLC, a Texas-based oil company. Learn more about the company and US oil industry when you visit this website.