Drilling for Oil and Gas

Download audio file (drilling.mp3)

The Canadian: It is a land-based rig.
The Aussie: Uh-huh.
The Canadian: And we are drilling mainly for gas.
The Aussie: M-hm.
The Canadian: Natural gas. The wells range between two thousand five hundred metres to three thousand five hundred metres in depth.
The Aussie:Wow!
The Canadian: Yeah. It is really interesting. My position is called “motor man” and it is kind of like a middle position almost like a sergeant.
The Aussie: Right ok.
The Canadian: So basically I am in charge of the three workers under me. I am in charge of all the mechanical and electrical systems. The air systems. Pretty much everything that is moving on the rig.
The Aussie: Right.
The Canadian: And also…
The Aussie: How big is the rig? It is like a big machine or?
The Canadian: It is a series of machines. The actual drilling platform itself, is called “the rig”.
The Aussie: Right.
The Canadian: It is It comprises (of) a working floor.. It is about four metres off the ground.
The Aussie: Uh-huh.
The Canadian: A derrick which is about thirty meters in height
The Aussie: Right.
The Canadian: And then you have got a system of mud tanks and pumps off to one side. There’s generators to supply electricity to the rig. Off there is a changing room. There is a catwalk where all your drilling pipe is stored on.
The Aussie: Uh-huh
The Canadian: There are various components.
The Aussie: Right.
The Canadian: All in all you are looking at maybe about a hundred and fifty square metres in area.

(the sound of bells ringing from two dogs with bells on their collars playing)

The Canadian: I am also in charge of the well control so if while you are drilling into the production zone; the area down in the earth where the gas is stored…
The Aussie: Down under?
The Canadian: Yeah. It is under really high pressure so you have to control the weight of your drilling fluid.
The Aussie: It is pretty dangerous. They have explosions sometimes?
The Canadian: Sometimes. That is called a blowout
The Aussie: Right. (to the dogs) Can you guys be quiet? Do you guys mind being quiet?
The Canadian: My job is to stop that from happening and if it goes there’s warning signs and when we get these warning signs we shut the well in …
The Aussie: Right.
The Canadian: … and we divert the flow of the drilling fluid through a system of manifolds and high pressure valves … divert it into different mud tanks and if there is any gas coming up we light a flare to burn off the excess gas.
The Aussie: Right. I have seen that in pictures of oil wells.
The Canadian: Yeah, you would have. Yeah. It is interesting work. You are dealing with geology. You are dealing with fluid dynamics. Physics.
The Aussie: Do you have a background in like engineering or anything like that…mechanical…?
The Canadian: No, actually it is pretty much learn as you go. It is always on the job training. You are learning something new every day. You don’t really stagnate at work.