A Newcomer's Guide to Oil and Gas: The Upstream Zoo

A Newcomer's Guide to Oil and Gas: The Upstream Zoo
Here's a breakdown of some of the 'critters' you can find on a drilling rig.

Drilling rigs are sophisticated machines – so sophisticated that some of them can even "walk." Nevertheless, some components of these advanced devices that can access hydrocarbons thousands of feet below the earth's surface are described in a decidedly "low-tech" fashion. Consider the abundance of "animal" terms below in this installment of "A Newcomer's Guide to Oil and Gas."

What Is a Doghouse?

In oil and gas parlance, the doghouse is not an enclosure where Spot, Fido or Rover takes a nap or where husbands spend the night when they screw up. Instead, it's a small building located on a rig floor that serves as the driller's "office" or a storehouse for small objects. It can also house the driller's controls on a modern, semi-automated rig. This page on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website features a small photo of a doghouse.

What Is a Catwalk?

In this context, a catwalk is not a raised platform on which fashion models parade the latest – and sometimes bizarre – styles from Paris, Milan and New York. Rather, it is a horizontal ramp at right angles to a drilling rig's Vee-door (remember that term?) used as a staging area for tubulars or drilling tools to be raised to or lowered from the derrick floor with the cathead and catline. The cathead, part of the drawworks, resembles a capstan and a catline is a rope that wraps around the rotating cathead. OSHA's website shows a photo of a catwalk.

What Is a Monkey Board?

A monkey board is an elevated platform on a drilling rig where a crew member called a derrickman works while running the drillstring – a string of drill pipe – into the borehole or pulling it out.

What Is a Muleshoe?

A muleshoe is an open-ended section of pipe run at the bottom of the drillstring or tubing used to circulate or cement the hole. It resembles a horseshoe or muleshoe when cut at an angle.

What Is a Pony Joint?

Also known as a pup joint, a pony joint is a short joint of drill pipe, drill collar, casing or tubing used to adjust the length of the drill string.

What Is a Rabbit?

A rabbit is a steel gauge made with a high degree of accuracy that is run through casing or tubing to confirm or check the minimum bore.

What Is a Nodding Donkey?

Deviating from drilling terminology and moving into production, a nodding donkey is a pump jack that raises and lowers the pump rods in a low-pressure oil well. Nodding donkeys are arguably the most familiar pieces of oilfield equipment in the eyes of people outside the oil and gas industry. The end of the pump jack beam on a nodding donkey is called the horsehead.

More 'animal' terms in drilling

(Special thanks go out to intrepid Rigzone subscriber and retired BP drilling pro Jim Jenner, who suggested a discussion of "animal" terms and provided detailed descriptions of each.)

WE NEED YOU! Please submit your simple, easily answerable oil and gas technical questions to Rigzone Senior Editor Matthew Veazey at mveazey@rigzone.com.

Matthew V. Veazey has written about the oil and gas industry since 2000. Email Matthew at mveazey@rigzone.com


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