Reading Monkeymans butchering tutorial got me to thinking about doing this. So here goes. Over the years I have had several people ask me questions related to drilling an oil well. I began writing this "Primer" but have found that it is quite exstensive and to long for a single post. Plus it is not as informative without pictures. We are just starting a new well and I thought that I would create a thread of the process.Take you through the entire process, with pictures. So I hope you all enjoy it. BTW due to my schedule it will take a few weeks to get the entire well documented. For those who don’t know, I work in the oil business. Specifically in the drilling and workover phase. I have been in the "Patch" 30 years this April. I call it the unknown proffesion. Most people don’t have a clue how it works. We all know what a plumber does, a carpenter, lawyer, cop, doctor, surgeon. But unless you have been in the industry you really have no idea how the oil business works. I thought that I would give a basic "Primer" here for those interested. Television has done more harm to the oil business than any other thing in history. The wild "gushers" of oil spraying in the air. Jed Clampett shooting at a rabbit and "up from the ground comes a bubbling crude". And of course the archtypical big oil villain "J.R. Ewing. First of all lets deal with gushers. The sight of oil spraying into the air is very dramatic and makes good television. But it is mostly Hollywood. The reason oil sprays into the air is that it is being pushed out of the ground by the pressure of natural gas. While this occurred in Texas in the early days of the oil business it is not something that you want to see. We, as an industry, soon learned how to control these abnormal pressures and keep them in the well bore. Gas escaping into the air is, of course, highly flammable. One spark and all the oil that has sprayed out, not to mention the rig and all the people, would be incinerated. I attend school every other year to maintain my "Well Control Certificate". We constantly train to control these "Blowouts". To recognize the indicators and to prevent it from happening. If oil comes shooting over the top of the rig I am on, then I haven’t done my job, and will be looking for another. Many people think of drilling an oil well like sticking a straw into the ground and sucking out the oil. Most people think of oil as an underground lake. It is actually more akin to a vein of gold imbedded in a rock formation. Most oil producing formations are either a highly compacted sand or a dense shale. Core samples taken from these zones are a round (6 - 8 inch usually), long (anywhere from 30 to 90 feet), sample of rock. The oil can be seen in small finger sized "veins" running through it. When produced, the oil seeps into the well bore and then is pumped to the surface. It is much more like getting fluid from a wet sponge than sucking it through a straw. The process begins by staking a location. After examining all of the available data a drill site is determined and after all the paper work, lease agreements etc. are in order, a stake is set in the ground marking the spot to drill. The geology of an area consists of layers of rock, sand, shale. Only certain formations contain oil. These differ in different areas. For example the "Barnett Shale" formation is a layer of oil saturated rock that starts in West Texas and runs across the northern part of the state all he way into Louisiana. Some formations are only a few miles long. The exact spot to drill is determined by researching wells drilled in the area and by siesmic recordings taken in the area. Once the spot is determined a well plan is drawn up. It is basically a step by step program or guideline for drilling the well. We will drill this size hole to this depth and set this size casing etc. The next step is to build the location. Dozers level the area and usualy haul in rock to build a "pad" around the proposed well. The size of this location depends on the rig used to drill the well and how much area is needed to place the rig and all its components. This is the site of the new well that we will drill. A small truck mounted unit comes in and drills a "Conductor hole" and installs a "Cellar" to contain the drilling mud and keep the location cleaner.. The "Conductor Pipe" is the pipe in the middle of the "Cellar". This one is 60' deep. You can start drilling from the ground without a conductor, but this just makes it easier and not so messy.