03 March, 2017 TIPS AND VOCABULARY Erin O'Neill

English vocabulary for oil and gas professionals

The oil and gas industry generates hundreds and thousands of job opportunities all around the world. It is a key sector for individuals who have studied and wish to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.


A truly international field of work, the oil and gas industry has a presence in all four corners of the world – and in order to be successful within the sector, speaking English clearly and concisely is an enormous help. Like many other professions, the oil and gas industry uses a lot of specific jargon and vocabulary. We’ve put together a run-down of some of the key terms you should know if you want to be a successful oil and gas professional.


Appraisal well

An appraisal well is a type of well that is drilled after the discovery of oil or gas as part of an appraisal programme. It is used to establish the limits of the field, its likely production rate and the properties of the oil or gas that has been found.

E.g. They used an appraisal well to find out more about the properties of the reservoir.


Christmas tree

A Christmas tree is the name given to the assembly of mechanical elements found on top of oil and gas wells. They are used to control the flow of the oil or gas. It is named for its resemblance to a decorated tree at Christmas.

E.g. Production can be controlled by opening or closing valves on the Christmas tree.


Drill cuttings

Drill cuttings are pieces of rock that come out of a well after it has been drilled. Fluid called drilling mud is used to carry the cuttings to the surface, where they can be disposed of safely and cleanly. They can be examined to make a record of the materials that have been found below the surface.

E.g. It is not good practice to dump drill cuttings onto the seabed.


Fracturing (AKA fracking)

A process whereby millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into underground gas and oil deposits. The pressure cracks apart the rocks below, releasing trapped oil and gas so that it can flow to the surface and be captured. A controversial process due to its environmental impact.

E.g. The fracturing process means we can access extra oil and gas from the Earth.


Liquefied natural gas (LNG)

LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to -162°C (-260°F), converting it into a liquid. Liquefying the gas reduces its volume by 600 times, for easier, safer storage and shipping. Since many producing areas are in remote locations where building pipelines would be too impractical or costly, this is an extremely useful process. When it reaches its destination, it is turned back into a gas at regasification plants.

E.g. The LNG tanker is moored at the thermal power station.



The payzone refers to the reservoir rock that contains oil and gas in exploitable quantities.

E.g. They found payzone rocks in the East.



The name given to an underground formation where oil and gas has accumulated. It is made up of porous rock that holds the oil or gas, along with a cap rock that prevents it from escaping.

E.g. There was a large amount of oil present in the reservoir.



To begin drilling operations in a new well.

E.g. It’s nearly time to spud-in the Northern well.


Wildcat well

A type of well drilled in a place with no historic production records or evidence of oil or gas present. Undertaken to find new sources of oil or gas.

E.g. They completed the drilling of a new wildcat well.


West Texas Intermediate (WTI)

A type of crude oil commonly used as a benchmark in oil pricing. Also known as Texas light sweet because of its low density and sulphur content.

E.g. According to projections, the price of WTI was on the increase.


If you’re interested in expanding your work-related English vocabulary even further, take a quick look at our guide to English vocabulary for tourism and hospitality.

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