How Does Oil Drilling Work?

Pumpjacks on Oil Field

In our day to day life in the 21st century we take the production of oil, and everything associated with it at face value. The actual question surrounding how do we find and drill for all of this oil really never enters the minds of most people.

The average person pumps gasoline into their car and drives off, turns a knob on their stove to cook their food or dons an article of clothing with a synthetic fabric blend and thinks no more of any of it. The truth of the matter is clear, the why and the how of oil drilling is literally at the heart of our everyday existence.

Let’s take a quick look at how we got to this point, what obstacles surround finding more oil, what we need to do to solve the problem, how our technology has come to the rescue and where we are going.

How Did We Get Here?

Like everything else that we so readily take for granted in the 21st century, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to some entrepreneurial, farsighted individuals who share a place in the history of oil. For several thousand years, the nomadic tribes of the Middle East, as well as the Native American people of the western hemisphere were aware of what we now call petroleum. Under natural pressure, crude oil or pitch that was trapped near the earth's surface would sometimes ooze forth from 'seeps' or surface fissures in the land. Over time these native peoples would learn to use the raw petroleum or 'mineral oil' for salves, natural medicines, torchlight and for waterproofing bark and dugout canoes.

For centuries, little more was done with this material until some chemists figured out a way to use oil from shale and natural seeps. In the 1850’s a Canadian named Abraham Gesner and Samuel Kier, an American, invented distilling processes to make cleaner burning liquids like kerosene for lamps and turpentine to tan leather and make paints. However, petroleum based products remained rather scarce because the only sources of this material were some surface oil shale deposits and seeps.

Early in 1859 'Colonel' Edwin Drake was a down-on-his-luck railroad conductor who invested $ 200.00, his entire life's savings, into a newly formed mineral company on farmland near Titusville in western Pennsylvania. For some years, drilling with steam power had been used to drill water wells and in salt deposits to bring up salt brine which was used to preserve foods. His idea was to use the same process to drill through cap rock near a known natural seep to reach the oil directly. On August 27th, 1859 Drake and his steam powered drill got through the rock and hit oil at only 70 feet below the surface. This was the first commercial oil well in the United States and it attracted a tidal wave of interest in oil drilling, refining and marketing of petroleum products. The race for oil was on!

Over the next 75 years, with the aid of better geology, diamond tipped drill bits and more powerful drilling rigs, petroleum reserves were discovered, and oil fields were developed in a number of regions around the planet. By the end of WWII and with global industrialization, the entire world was a much thirstier place. Petroleum literally became a new form of currency, a highly prized ‘liquid gold.’

Why Is Oil Now So Hard To Get?

By the late twentieth century most of the world had an ever increasing dependence upon petroleum products. We now rely on crude oil and gas for distillates like gasoline, fuel oil and diesel to power our autos and machinery, heat homes, generate electricity and as the basis for plastics, fabrics and agribusiness. The world as we know it today could simply not run without adequate supplies of oil and natural gas.

Many years ago much of the oil was found under natural salt domes and similar geology in places like Texas and Oklahoma and the drilling techniques were rather straightforward. The bad news is that over the past century virtually all of that ‘easy’ oil and gas has already been found, and most of it has been pumped, refined and used by the 7+ billion people who now inhabit the planet.

So, What Can We Do To Get More Oil?

This is where various technological breakthroughs have made the difference between a thirsty world and one with adequate supplies of this valuable resource. Today, highly detailed surveys using special test bores and ground penetrating sonic systems are made by teams of geologists who specialize in identifying oil and gas bearing rock layers or strata deep underground.

Once the oil and gas reserves are found or proved, petroleum companies lease the lands and build the required infrastructure before drilling for the oil and gas deposits. This is where Tech-Flo Consulting comes in to do what we do best…help them get these raw resources out of the ground, effectively, safely and efficiently.

Here’s How We Do It

Everything about finding and drilling for oil is time consuming and expensive. To insure profitability for the producer, critical decisions must be made to do things with the right equipment in a timely manner.

Our expertise is in making real-time assessments of the producer’s oil or gas bearing site to determine the best overall extraction strategies and types of equipment to do the job. Since most of the newly found reserves are generally deeper and harder to access, we use proven state-of-the-art techniques to bring the petroleum or gas product to the surface as efficiently as possible.

Here’s one of the ways we do this…

• Something we call an ‘artificial lift’ is a system employed to do the job, and basically it works on the principal of a jet engine by creating pressure levels inside a special chamber lowered into the borehole.

• When water and proprietary fluids are put down into the well, the jet pump nozzle and mixing tube in the chamber forces the liquids through a constriction point, creating something called the Venturi effect.

• This creates an environment where the pressure drops below the gas or oil so that it can be carried with the power liquids back to the surface.

• Above ground, a triplex, or three-way pump then separates the original power liquids from the desired gas or crude petroleum product.

• The system liquids are then recirculated back to the jet pump down in the well while the gas or oil is captured in tanks for removal by pipeline.

• This ingenious process uses no moving parts down in the borehole and simple to maintain power and pumping equipment above the wellhead.

• The power, injection and artificial lift machinery can be tailored to new wells, large and small, as well as to low-pressure or older low-yield gas and oil wells to maximize petroleum product extraction.

• This new technology has increased the efficiency and reliability of petroleum and gas extraction to levels never achieved and maximized the potential of every well where it has been deployed.

Where’s All This Going?

We’ve come a long way from the days of Edwin Drake and steam drills. Our jet pump and artificial lift oil service technologies have raised the gas and oil production bar to unimagined new heights. The combined power of hydrologic and geologic experts, field assessment, hi-tech equipment and professional operation are the keys to this industry.

Our unswerving effort to improve drilling technologies will insure that this nation will continue to have an abundant energy supply. Indeed, this will help to assure the economic prosperity of the United States and all of its citizens for years to come.