Oil and Gas Jargon – A Newcomer’s Guide

Each industry has its own amount of unique technical jargon, and when it comes to the oil and gas world there really is no shortage of oil and gas jargon. As new techniques and technologies are implemented so are new terms and phrases. Keeping the outsider even more in the dark wondering, “What gas are they actually drilling for out on the rigs to make them use such peculiar words?” For example, here is an example of a perfectly normal conversation that could take place between two oil rig personnel:

Bazil: Did you bring the dope?
Frank: Yes I did, did you bring the pipes?
Bazil: Yes I did.

Now to any outsider, this conversation might sound a touch nefarious, but in the Oil & Gas world “Dope” is a thick lubricant used on pipe connections. So before we all misconstrue another perfectly normal conversation between two Oil & Gas professionals, let us jump right in and do some CSI work on Oil & Gas linguistics, starting with…

Can you get me the Vee-Door Key?
The correct answer to this question would be “No I can’t because it doesn’t exist”. The reason is that the Vee-Door doesn’t have a doorknob or a lock, and therefore does not require a key. According to Schlumberger’s extensive Oilfield Glossary (yes, there is an oilfield glossary dedicated to oil & gas technical jargon) describes the vee-door as: an opening on a mast-type drilling rig through which pipes and tools can be transported to the rig’s derrick. So the next time someone asks you for the Vee-Door key, they’re simply testing to see how fresh your sea legs are. Moving on…

What is a wahoo, or “Geronimo,” line?
This is definitely something you want to know about if you’re hanging around the rig derrick and things go south. Resembling a zipline, a wahoo or “Geronimo” line is a steel cable that provides an escape route from the rig derrick. In the event of an emergency rig personnel hold onto a handle and attach their safety belts onto the line, before joyfully sliding down away from the rig. Thank goodness the first guy to require the use of the line yelled “Geronimo!” and not “Aaaaaaaargh!” leaving us all with the “Aaaaaaaargh line” forever etched into the oil & gas glossary. Next, we have…

What is a fishing tool? And do I need one?
Fishing tools are mechanical devices that rig personnel use to recover equipment that has fallen down a well bore. So to answer the latter part of that question – it all depends on how clumsy you are.

Bell nipple
Nothing sexy about this, it’s merely an enlarged pipe at the top of a casing string that serves as a funnel to guide drilling tools into the top of the well.

An inexperienced oilfield worker who is not yet a “hand”

A finger is a person that has been in the field long enough to no longer be a worm but is unfortunately not yet smart enough to be considered a Hand. For example, you get a Drill Finger or a Frac Finger, who will hopefully one day earn the title of “Hand”

An intelligent well
An oil or gas well equipped with monitoring equipment and completion components that allow for automatic or remote optimization of production. So if you are in the market for a well, then you’ll definitely want an intelligent one.

A device inserted into a pipeline for cleaning purposes. The act of using a pig is called pigging. I would therefore assume that someone who gets carried away with pigging would be considered someone “Pigging out on pigging”

Pull past Martin-Decker
This term is used when extreme tension is exerted on a stuck pipe, so much so that the pointer needle revolves off-scale beyond the logo of a popular manufacturer of weight indicators, Martin-Decker. So all you really need to know here is that you are in unmeasured territory when you pull past Martin-Becker. The funny thing is I knew a guy in school called Martin Decker who was unfortunately short in stature and overly generous in girth, and on athletics day – everybody in the race would pull past Martin Decker.

We’ve merely scratched the surface of the Oil & Gas lexicon in this article, and this list can go on and on with terms like Nipple Up, Pumper, Kill, Kelly, and Big Bear. In fact, one could quite easily construct sentences using all these terms, that would leave the laymen staring at you wondering “Did Kelly and Pumper just kill Big Bear?”