Glossary of the Technical Terminology Used in the Petroleum Industry, 1890 - 1950


The original version of this article was created by Francesco Gerali, 2019 Elizabeth & Emerson Pugh Scholar in Residence at the IEEE History Center

It is recommended this article be cited as:

F. Gerali (2019). Glossary of the Technical Terminology Used in the Petroleum Industry, 1890 - 1950, Engineering and Technology History Wiki. [Online] <nowiki>Available:,_1890_-_1950

Abandonment (of petroleum wells): It may be due to many causes. Besides the primary reason, exhaustion of the oil bearing strata, there are damage to the casing, the flooding of the well hole through influx of water, or landslips and falls of the strata.

Absorption Gasoline: Gasoline extracted from natural gas by contacting the gas with the petroleum and distilling the mixture to recover the natural gasoline dissolved by the petroleum.

Absorption Oil: Petroleum used for dissolving gasoline vapors present in natural gas (see Absorption Gasoline).

Accelerator: In petroleum refining, the substance which increases the speed of a chemical reaction.

Acid Sludge: Gummy acid material which separates from the oil after treating it with sulfuric acid during the preliminary phase of depuration.

Adipic Acid from Naphtha: On the formation of adipic acid from the naphtha fraction of Russian petroleum ether which boils at 80C.

Aeroplane Oil: High grade aviation engine lubricant. It is a white, straight-reduced viscous neutral oil having a gravity of 32 to 34 Be (Baumé scale), a flash-point of 415F., a fire test of 480F., a cold test of 20F., and a viscosity of 185 to 200 Saybolt.

Aggregate: The mineral material, such as sand, gravel, shells, slag, or broken stone, or combinations thereof, with which cement or bituminous material is mixed to form a mortar or concrete. "Fine aggregate" may be considered as the mineral inert material which will pass a ¼ inch screen, and "coarse aggregate" the material which will not pass a ¼ inch screen.

Air Lifting: A method, experimented since the 1860s in the USA, for lifting oil by pumping air at the bottom of the well and allowing the resulting mixture of oil and air to rise to the surface.

Albertite: A jet-black, pitch-like, brittle hydrocarbon possessing a conchoidal fracture and a specific gravity of about 1.1. It differs from ordinary asphalt in being only partly (about 30 per cent.) soluble in turpentine and in being only imperfectly fused when heated.

Aliphatic Hydrocarbons: Hydrocarbons in which the major C atoms form a straight chain.

Aliphatic Hydrocarbons from Polymethylenes: According to French Patent 462073, Sept. 2, 1913, of the Romanian chemical firm Steaua Romana Petroleumges M. B. H., polymethylenes or mixtures containing polymethylenes, particularly petroleum residuum or mineral oils of high boiling point, are subjected to destructive distillation, and the products are converted into saturated hydrocarbons by treatment with hydrogen in the presence of a suitable catalytic agent.

Alkylation: Formation of complex saturated molecules by direct union of a saturated and an unsaturated molecule.

Ammonia Oil: An oil suitable for the lubrication of the cylinders of ammonia compressors. Low cold test is essential for this purpose.

Amyl Hydride: Fraction in the distillation of petroleum introduced as an anesthetic by J. Bigelow and B. W. Richardson in 1867.

Aniline Point: Temperature at which aniline and oil become completely miscible with each other under specified experimental conditions. This test serves as an indication of the content of aromatic hydrocarbons in the oil.

Anytoles: Poprietary preparations in which substances like phenol, cresol, volatile oils, camphors, etc., are dissolved in water by means of anytin - a substance formed by the action of sulphuric acid on various mineral oils, resin oils, and hydrocarbons. The ammonia salt of the hydrocarbons, containing 10 per cent of chemically combined sulphur, has been found the most useful solvent. Some of the anytoles prepared are: phenolanytole, cresolanytole, meta-cresol-anytoler creosote-anytole, guaiacol-anytole, benzeneanytole, eucalyptol-anytole, peppermint-anytole, wintergreen-anytole, turpentine-anytole, camphor-anytole, and iodine-anytole. It has been claimed for these anytoles that they are superior in bactericidal power to the disinfecting substances they contain.

A.P.I. Gravity: Arbitrary scale for measuring the density of oils which has been adopted by the American Petroleum Institute in the 1920s to replace the Baume Degrees.

Aragotite: A volatile hydrocarbon, said to be related to idrialite; it occurs at the New Almaden and Redington mines, California, in bright yellow color scales.

Ash Content: Waste material left on combustion of an oil sample and representing the contents of inorganic matter in the oil.

Asphalt: Solid or semisolid mixture of hydrocarbons found in nature (natural asphalt) or manufactured by distillation, oxidation or other treatment of mineral oils (artificial asphalt).

Asphalt or Asphaltum: Solid or semi-solid native bitumen, solid or semi-solid bitumen obtained by refining petroleum, or solid or semisolid bitumen which is a combination of the bitumen mentioned with petroleum or derivatives thereof, which melts on the application of heat, and which consists of a mixture of hydrocarbons and their derivatives of complex structure, largely cyclic and bridge compounds. Asphalt has also been defined as a dark-colored, and more or less viscous to solid hydrocarbon complex, including:

  1. the easily fusible bitumen often associated with a mineral matrix (e.g., calcareous, siliceous or earthy), not having a "waxy" luster or unctuous feel (natural resulting from a slow natural process of metamorphosis, known as natural asphalts, or "mineral pitches").
  2. fusible residuum obtained from the distillation, oxidation, sulphurization, etc., of bitumen (known as petroleum asphalt, or petroleum pitches).

Asphalt-Base Petroleum: Asphalt-base oils contain asphalt and no paraffin. They are distilled to asphalt, and the distillates are cut according to gravity; such oils do not yield steam-refined cylinder stock or paraffin wax.

Asphalt Block Pavement: One having a wearing course of previously prepared blocks of asphaltic concrete.

Asphalt Cement: A fluxed or unfluxed asphaltic material, especially prepared as to quality and consistency, suitable for direct use in the manufacture of asphaltic pavements and having a penetration of between 5 and 250. See Flux.

Asphalt-Rock: The name applied to a stratum of sandstone or limestone when saturated with asphalt. Asphalt Substitutes.

Asphaltenes: The components of the bitumen in petroleum, petroleum products, malthas, asphalt cements, and solid native bitumen which are soluble in carbon disulphide, but insoluble in naphtha (petroleum spirit).

Asphalt Base Crude: Crude containing asphalt and practically no wax.

Asphalt Cement: A specially prepared asphalt which can be used directly for building pavements.

Bail: The loop or eye on the top of certain Instruments lowered into the well by a wire line. To remove cuttings, mud and other debris with the bailer or sand pump.

Bailer: Apparatus for removing mud, sand and water from the bottom of a well which accumulate in drilling operations. It is a long tube having a trip/dart valve at the bottom and a bail on top lowered into the well for removing slush, cuttings, water or oil. The apparatus used to remove mud, sand, and water from a well. Occasionally it was also used instead of a pump, to recover the oil.

Bailing: One of the most common ways by which the water and drill rings that collect at the bottom of a well during drilling are brought to the surface. In Russia, the petroleum itself is also removed by a bailer.

Band Wheel: The large pulley on the countershaft between the power unit and bull wheels and calf wheel; also transmits power to the crank which in turn gives motion to the walking beam.

Blow-out: A sudden violent escape of gas, petroleum or air from the drilled well.

Blown Asphalt: Asphalt produced by blowing air through residual oils.

Bottoms: Residues left after petroleum distillation.

Bottom Settlings: Sediment formed in storing crude petroleum and usually consisting of oil, water and inorganic matter.

Brightening: Blowing lubricating oils with air at slightly elevated temperatures to remove traces of moisture which impart to the oil a cloudy or hazy appearance.

Bright Stock: A heavy viscous residual oil of a clear pale or red color. The term is sometimes applied to very viscous distillate stocks.

Burning Test: Test for determining burning qualities of kerosene.

Burnt Oil: A lubricating oil improperly treated with sulfuric acid which resulted in destruction of the pleasant color associated with the well refined oils.

Cable/Percussion System: System of drilling wells by a heavy string of tools suspended from a cable and consisting in breaking the ground by a series of blows produced by alternately lifting and dropping the tools. In the early years of the petroleum industry it was also called American System.

Caliper: borehole diameter measurement.

Capping: Controlling the flow of petroleum wells by employing strong valves attached to the casing.

Carbon Black: A solid finely divided material consisting almost exclusively of carbon and produced by incomplete combustion of natural gas or oil.

Carbon Residue/Conradson Carbon: Residue left on heating and evaporating a lubricating oil under specified conditions.

Casing: Steel or iron pipe for lining oil wells.

Casing Collar: the screw connection between two lengths of casing.

Casing Head: A device at the top of the casing for separating gas from the oil and providing an access to the well for pumping, cleaning and other purposes.

Catalysis: A process employing a substance which promotes chemical reactions without itself undergoing chemical changes.

Centrifuge: An apparatus effecting gravity separation by the application of a centrifugal force caused by rapid rotation.

Ceresin: A substance prepared from ozokerite and resembling beeswax. The name is often applied to similar substances present in crude petroleum.

Clay: A heterogeneous mixture of hydrated aluminum silicates containing impurities like iron, calcium, etc. Some of the clays have property of absorbing impurities from petroleum and are employed in petroleum refining.

Cloud Test: Temperature at which paraffin wax or other substances present in the oil begin to separate on chilling affecting the oil transparency.

Coking: The process of distilling petroleum to dryness resulting in the decomposition of heavy hydrocarbons with resulting formation of coke in the still.

Cold Pressing: Separating paraffin wax from distillate oils by chilling and filtering through a filter press.

Cold Settling: Separation of petrolatum from oils by chilling, settling and decanting the petrolatum free material.

Cold Test: Temperature at which wax or other materials congeal on chilling preventing the free flow of the oil under conditions of testing.

Color Stability: Resistance of oil to discoloration under the influence of light, aging, etc.

Compounded Oil: Mineral oils containing added vegetable or animal oils.

Corrosion Test: Test designed to indicate whether an oil is corrosive to metals and is usually conducted by immersing a copper strip in the oil under specified conditions of testing.

Cracking/Destructive Distillation/Dry Distillation: Decomposition of heavy petroleum products into lighter ones by application of heat.

Crude: Unrefined petroleum.

Cat: Fraction of petroleum obtained by distillation.

Cut-back Products: Blends of heavy and light oils to bring the heavy oil to desired specifications.

Cutting Oil: Oil for lubricating and cooling metal cutting tools and made by blending mineral oils with lard oil or similar oils (insoluble cutting oils) or with sulfonated products (soluble cutting oils).

Cylinder Oil: Heavy oil for lubricating steam cylinders, frequently compounded. The use of the term is sometimes extended to very heavy residual stocks of refining residual.

Dead Oil: Crude petroleum from which the lighter fractions have evaporated. A name given to those products of distillation consisting of carbolic acid, naphthalene, etc., obtained in the distillation of coal tar.

Dehydrator: Apparatus for removing water from oil or gas.

Derrick: Four-edged tower erected straight above a petroleum well for hoisting or lowering the boring tools.

Detonation/knocking: Sharp explosion resulting in the characteristic noise in a motor produced by inferior grades of motor fuel.

Diesel Engine Oil: Oil used for lubricating Diesel engines.

Distillate: Product of distillation collected by passing vapors through a condenser. The name is sometimes applied to a petroleum fraction intermediate between gasoline and kerosene.

Doctor Test: A test employed for determining the presence of certain sulfur compounds (mercaptans) in the gasoline.

Drill Pipe: Term applied to seamless internal upset pipe used as the drilling column in the rotary system. The pipe used as auger stem in drilling a rotary well.

Drill Pipe Protector: A rubber or ball-bearing steel ring attached to each joint of drill pipe to reduce the friction and subsequent wear between the drill pipe and casing.

Drill Rod: A vertical rod bearing drilling tool for boring wells.

Drilling: Process of making an oil well. Two general methods of drilling are employed: cable or percussion system, and rotary system or boring.

Drilling Tools: All essentials for making the bore and cleaning out the detritus, also all special appliances for removing tools which may be broken or otherwise fastened in the bore; also, Cable and Sand Line, and tools for handling Casing and Pipe used in the construction of the well. This is the portion of the drilling outfit which must be selected with the greatest care, and with an eye to its efficiency in meeting the peculiar conditions for which it is intended. In the United States in the mid-1910, the simplest and lightest drilling outfits could be purchased at a cost of $500, but in other conditions it could require the expenditure of $4,000 to $5,000.

Drive Pipe: A pipe which is forced into a bored hole to shut off water or prevent caving.

Dry Gas: Natural gas void of gasoline vapors.

Dry Hole: A well containing no oil or gas.

Drying Oil: Oil capable of absorbing oxygen from the air forming a relatively hard, tough and elastic film when exposed in thin layers to the atmosphere.

Dry Sand: Nonproductive sand encountered in drilling.

Dump Bailer: Cylindrical vessel used to lower cement or water into a well that is liable to cave if fluid is poured from the top.

Eccentric Bit: A modified form of chisel used In drilling, in which one end of the cutting edge is extended further from the center of the bit than the other.

Edge Water: In oil and gas wells, it is water that holds the oil and gas in the higher structural positions; usually encroaches on a petroleum field after much of the oil and gas has been recovered and the pressure has become greatly reduced.

Electrode: the piece of metal attached to a wire through which electrical current is passed into the borehole liquid or formation.

Evaporation Test: A test applied to volatile petroleum products to determine the completeness or rapidity of evaporation.

Expansion Bit: A drill bit that may be adjusted for holes of various sizes.

Fish: A term applied to any tool or apparatus lost in the well hole.

Fishing: The operations involved in recovering lost tools; pulling up or out from some deep place, as if by fishing; aid of recovering lost or broken well-boring tools.

Fishing Basket: Fishing tool made from a short length of casing with a toothed edge.

Fishing Jars: Jars used with fishing tools to recover lost tools or casing from a hole. They have a longer stroke than those used In drilling.

Flush Production: (1) Indicates a well's first enthusiasm, where the oil flows freely from wells without artificial or mechanical assistance. (2) The yield of an oil well during the early period of production and before the output has settled down to what may be regarded as usual for the field or district in which it is drilled.

Foaming: A method of extinguishing oil fires by spraying with a foaming liquid.

Foamite: The trade name for a preparation used in smothering petroleum fires; a proprietary concentrated extract of licorice root. When mixed with a bicarbonate of soda solution in proper proportion, it yields a solution containing an equivalent acid radical, and produces a mass of foam impregnated with carbonic acid gas.

Gauger: One whose business it is to systematically determine the amount of petroleum in a producer's storage.

Gauging Nipple: A small projecting hatch, usually cylindrical in form, about three to four inches in diameter, located in the roof of a tank close to the manplate; a small aperture, preferably with self-closing cover which permits the gauging of the tank contents without the necessity of removing the larger manplate.

Gallon: The standard gallon of the United States contains 231 cubic inches, or 8.3389 pounds avoirdupois of distilled water at Its maximum density and with a barometer of 30 inches. The English imperial gallon contains almost exactly 1.20 U. S. gallons.

Gas: An aeriform fluid, having neither independent shape nor volume, but tending to expand indefinitely.

Gas Detector: A device to show the presence of fire-damp, etc., in a mine.

Gas Engine: A kind of broadly, any internal-combustion engine using gas; also, internal-combustion engine.

Gaseous: (1) In the form, or in the nature, of gas; pertaining to gases. (2) Lacking substance or solidity.

Gas Field: A tract or district yielding exclusively natural gas.

Gas-Oil: (1) One of the first products of distillation in the manufacture of lubricating oils. (2) A product intermediate between "heavy end" and paraffin distillate. This is distinguished from heavy gas-oil obtained in the subsequent reduction of paraffin distillate.

Gas Lift: A system of pumping petroleum by gas instead of air.

Gas/Oil Separator: A cylindrical tank fitted with a float and control valves for separating gas from oil as It Is delivered from producing wells.

Go-Devil: A pipe scraper with several adjustable blades, inserted in a pipeline and carried forward by the fluid pressure clearing away accumulations of paraffin and foreign matter from the walls of the pipe. (2) This term is also applied to a device for exploding the nitroglycerin used to shoot an oil well.

Greyhounds: "Make up" lengths of drill pipe consisting of one, two or more lengths of drill pipe screwed together into "stands" and having a tool joint at each end. These make-up "stands" are inserted to make up lengths less than one regular "stand" while drilling.

Gusher: (1) An oil well with a large natural flow. (2) A well from which petroleum flows spontaneously when the productive horizon is reached by the drill; brought about by the accumulation of gas in a greatly compressed state in the oil-bearing sands.

Guy: A guide rope, chain, or rod attached to anything to steady it; a rope which holds in place the end of a boom or spar; a rod or rope attached to the top of a derrick and extending obliquely to the ground where it is fastened.

Guy Anchor: The support to which derrick guys are attached.

Guy Rings: Rings on the head block of a derrick mast to which the guy ropes are attached.

Half-Turn Socket: In oil-well drilling a fishing tool having jaws bent around in an Incomplete circle to embrace lost tools lying against the side of the well.

Hand-Dug Wells: The earliest known method of extracting petroleum was by means of pits dug by hand labor. The usual method was to dig a few feet and then allow the oil to collect at the bottom, whence it was subsequently collected by means of a suitable vessel.

Hydrated Lime: Mechanically slacked lime, sometimes used for thickening rotary mud fluid when circulation has been lost, i.e., when the mud fluid has run away in the porous sands and gravels.

Hydraulic Jack: A jack for lifting, pressing, etc., in which pressure on the moving part is transmitted by a liquid, such as water or oil.

Hydraulic Circulating System: A method of drilling by which mud-laden fluid is circulated during cable-tool drilling.

Hydraulic Lime: A specially treated lime having the property of hardening under water; sometimes used to increase the tenacity of rotary mud fluids.

Hydrometer: A graduated instrument for determining the specific gravity of fluids.

Ichthyol: A water-soluble oil which is obtained by the distillation of bituminous shales and subsequent sulphonation and neutralization with ammonia and salt.

Igneous Rocks: Volcanic rocks hardened into their present form from a molten state.

Immiscible: Meaning not capable of mixing, as oil and water.

Impervious: Impassable; applied to strata such as clays, shales, etc., which will not permit of the penetration of water, petroleum, or natural gas.

Impregnated: Said of a rock or other body, the pores of which are more or less filled with extraneous material, such as oil or tar.

Impression Block: A lead or wooden block containing wax, run on a horn socket and allowed to rest on top of lost tools where it is necessary to obtain an impression of the pin or top of the tools lost in the hole.

Inclinometer: A well surveying instrument for determining the direction and deviation from the vertical of a crooked hole.

Jack: Mechanism installed at the mouth of a petroleum well for transmitting mechanical power from a central pumping station.

Jack Lines: Lines used to transmit motion from a pumping power to well pumping jacks.

Jack Posts: Posts which support the band wheel shaft in a derrick.

Jar Socket: A fishing tool.

Jerk Line: A short cable connected to the crank pin and to a spudding pole to enable drilling tools to be operated without the use of the walking beam.

Jig: In well-boring, to drill with a spring pole.

Joint: In drilling, that part of a drilling or fishing tool by which connection is made with another member of the string. A complete joint consists of a threaded truncated cone, the pin and a corresponding coupling din- box), also a single piece of pipe or tubing usually about 20 feet in length.

Jumping A Claim: Taking possession of a mine or claim by stealth, fraud or force.

Knuckle Post: A device known as a sand reel support in a derrick.

Machinery: Terms generally used in the petroleum field to refer to boilers and engines - the sources of power.

Lift: In drilling, the vertical movement of the drilling tool.

Line Pipe: A special brand of pipe that employs recessed and taper thread couplings, and usually greater length of thread than Briggs standard. The pipe is also subjected to higher tests. It differs from standard pipe in that it is always lap-welded, the couplings are longer, and the ends of both couplings and tubes are always reamed.

Liner: A string of casing of the next smaller diameter extending from the bottom of the last cemented string into the producing sand, to which is frequently attached screen or perforated pipe; a removable cylinder in the fluid end of the slush pump.

Log: The driller's daily tour report of formations and water, petroleum and gas showings met with during drilling; a record of drilling, giving in detail the color, nature, thickness and contents of the formations encounter

Lubricating Greases: Lubricants employed to some extent on account of their easy and, in some cases, economical application, consisting of solutions of lime-soaps or lime-alkali-soaps in mineral oils; mixtures of wool-grease, tallow, alkali soaps, etc., with mineral oil; or, in the case of axle or wagon greases, of lime-soaps, rosin oil, lignite-tar, coal-tar, oils, magnesium silicates (talcum), mica, etc.

Lubricating Oils: In petroleum refining, lubricating oils may be the distillates passing over after gas oils almost to the end of the distillation until wax appears. Also, petroleum residues not rendered too sticky by asphalt or other resinous matter.

Mudcake: The collection of the mud solids which forms as the mud is forced through a filter or into a permeable formation

Mud Filtrate: The liquid part of the mud after the solids have been filtered out.

Magnetometer: A geophysical instrument used for measuring the intensity of the earth magnetic field.

Making Hole: Meaning the depth gained in drilling wells.

Making Up: Term meaning screwing up joints of pipe or connecting up a string of tools.

Mandrel Socket: A well tool for straightening out the top of the casing, etc., within a well consisting of a lemon-shaped swedge within cone or bell-mouth, by means of which the casing is worked to a circular shape.

Manifold: A fitting with several branches to convey fluids between a large pipe and several small pipes.

Marsh Gas: Methane; same as fire-damp. More accurately used in recent years to describe the natural gas exuding from marshes, and also obtained from drilling near the surface, as distinguished from "deep gas", "oil gas", "petroleum gas", obtained from deep wells and indicative of the presence of oil. By analysis, marsh gas is distinguished from oil gas by containing significant amounts of carbon dioxide (ten per cent or more) and other impurities. Large proportions of both carbon dioxide and nitrogen being present in natural gas from shallow wells, it may safely be assumed to come from the decomposition of surface organic matter.

Natural Gas: A mixture of natural gaseous hydrocarbons generally associated with petroleum deposits. A mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons found in nature; in many places connected with deposits of petroleum, to which the gaseous compounds are closely related.

Neutral Oils: (1) Oils carrying paraffin which are obtained by the steam-distillation of paraffin-base petroleum after the second-grade illuminating oil has been run off. Neutral oil carrying paraffin is known as "wax distillate." (2) Lubricants of medium viscosity and fire test, usually filtered, and obtained by the reduction of pressed distillate from wax oil or wax distillate.

Non-Producing Oil Royalty: Referred to as "under-the well", "off set", "close-in" or "wildcat", are mineral interests under the land on which there is no production, or which have not been proven by the drill. They may be next door to a producing property or miles away and are considered very speculative. They do not have any return or income other than the usual proportionate share of all rentals and renewals of the mineral lease.

Oil Flotation: A process in which oil is used in ore concentration by flotation.

Oil Gauge: An instrument of the hydrometer type arranged for testing the specific gravity of oils; also, a device for measuring oil in a tank.

Oil Lease: Means that a landowner grants to an oil company the right to prospect and drill for petroleum and gas under his land and produce same when found. A lease is issued for a specified period of time usually five, seven or ten years. The provisions are that in consideration for obtaining the oil lease the company will pay to the landowner a certain yearly cash rental or bonus until oil or gas is produced. There after the company will deliver to landowner free of any cost a certain proportion of all oil and gas produced from his land.

Oil Pool: A term applied to a productive oil field; an accumulation of liquid hydrocarbons in sedimentary rock that yields petroleum on drilling. The oil occurs in the pores of the rock and is not a pool or pond in the ordinary sense of these words.

Oil Smellers: Also termed fakirs; in mid-19th century, people professing to be able to indicate where oil-bearing strata are to be found; to locate places successfully for well boring by the sense of smell or by other non-technical methods.

Oil String: The string of casing or tubing which is let down to the oil sand and through which the oil flows to the surface.

Oil-Well Packing: A packing inserted between the pipe and the interior surface of the boring in an oil well to keep surface water from the sides of the hole from running into the well, and to prevent oil in some wells from being forced out around the pipe by a pressure of gas.

Packer: A device used in an oil or gas well to stop the flow of fluid around the casing or tubing. A device used to shut off water between the casing and tubing and the wall of the hole, between two strings of casing, or between casing and tubing. Based on the vertical compression and the horizontal expansion of a flexible material such as rubber.

Pay: Term meaning commercially productive oil sand.

Peat Tar: A tar obtained from the distillation of peat. The distillates obtained contain from two to six per cent tar.

Peglegging: The alternative "hit and miss" of cable tools due to improper adjustment of engine control in raising and dropping the tools.

Petrolatum: Petrolatum, or soft petroleum ointment, is a light yellowish or yellow semi-solid petroleum, possessing a specific gravity of 0.820 to 0.850 at 60C. and melting at 45 to 48C. It is soluble in ether, chloroform, benzine, carbon disulphide, slightly soluble in alcohol, and insoluble in water and glycerin. Petrolatum is widely used in medicine as an antiseptic and emollient; it is a well-known ointment base. It is also employed in clay modelling, as a leather grease, in the lubrication of machinery and firearms, as a shoe polish, in greasing hoofs, as a rust preventive, in the manufacture of soaps and pomades, and in making oiled paper. In veterinary, petrolatum is a dark yellow, semi-solid mass. It is essentially crude (unpurified) and employed in veterinary surgery as an ointment base. Petrolatum is also called Adeps Petrolei, Adepsine Oil, Amalie, Atoleine, and Atolin, Petronol, and Petrosapol.

Pipe Dog: A hand tool that is used to rotate a pipe whose end is accessible, consisting of a small, short steel bar the end of which is bent at a right angle to the handle, and then quickly returned, leaving only enough space between the jaws to slip over the wall of pipe.

Pipeline: A line or conduit of pipe, sometimes many hundred miles long, through which petroleum is conveyed from on oil region to a market or to reservoirs for refining. A line of pipe with pumping machinery and apparatus for conveying a liquid or gas.

Pipe Tongs: Tool for screwing or unscrewing pipe joints. A band tool for gripping or rotating pipe.

Pitch: The distance measured on a line parallel to the axis between two threads, or convolutions of a screw, or between holes, etc. A term loosely used to denote: (1) The residuum from the distillation of rosin oils. (2) The residuum, somewhat similar to the above in appearance, remaining after the distillation of crude petroleum. (3) The residuum remaining in the retorts after the distillation of coal tar. (4) Natural asphalts, particularly that from the asphalt or pitch lake in Trinidad.

Portable Drilling Machine: A light, compact, modified cable-tool drilling outfit mounted on wheels.

Puking: A term used in refining, to denote the boiling over of a still, in which the crude charge mixes with the distillate and generally contaminates the contents of a run-down tank.

Rat Hole: A slanting hole about 20 or 25 feet deep under the derrick floor into which the grief stem is placed when it is necessary to lubricate or adjust the swivel; a small hole drilled ahead to obtain geological information; hole to prepare for rotary drilling by drilling with a small bit, leaving a seat for casing.

Resin: The generic term covering saponifiable materials found in oils, with the exception of fatty and sulphuric acids. Term erroneously applied sometimes to solid variants of bitumen.

Rig (standard rig, oil rig, drilling rig): In the 19th and early 20th centuries the rig was a structure with foundation of heavy timbers, and the wheels and reels on which are carried the lines or cables to which are attached the drilling tools proper. Shallow wells not exceeding 600 to 800 feet in depth were drilled through soft formations using the so called Corbett Mast Rig. This Rig, while not as strong or admitting of such rapid work as the Standard Rig, was particularly useful for prospecting or for conducting work where transportation facilities are limited and economy more desirable than speed.

Rope Grab: A tool for recovering ropes lost In the bore-hole.

Rope Knife: A tool used to cut rope in a well when the string of tools has become stuck; tool used for cutting the drilling rope in the hole.

Rope Socket: (1) A device used in cable drilling which serves to couple the cable to the string of tools. (2) The part of a string of tools connected to the drilling line.

Rope Spear: An appliance for fishing up lost cables in the drilling of wells.

Rope Worm: Used In cable drilling when drawing rope out of tubing.

Rotary: The turntable used to rotate the pipe in a rotary rig.

Rotary Machine: A turntable operated by a chain, or shaft driven from the draw-works, for rotating the drill pipe.

Rotary Shoe: A casing shoe with a serrated edge, used in rotary drilling.

Rotary System: The method of drilling which depends for its effective ness on a rotating, auger type of bit, and a constant circulation of mud to remove the drillings and to plaster and consolidate the walls of the hole.

Sand Box: A trough fitted with baffles used to separate sand and water from the production of wells making large quantities of sand and water with the oil.

Sand Line: A wire line used to lower and raise the bailer or sand pump which frees the bore-hole from drill cuttings.

Sand Pump: A tool for balling out cuttings produced by drilling. A cylinder with a valve at the bottom lowered into a drill hole from time to time to take out the accumulated slime resulting from the action of the drill on the rock.

Sand Reel: High speed hoist used for bailing and swabbing operations. A drum operated by a friction drive from the band wheel used to raise or lower the sand pump or bailer.

Screen Pipe: Pipe perforated to permit oil and fine sand to be pumped from the well, but which excludes all large matter such as gravel which might choke up the pump valves.

Shell Pump: A simple form of sand pump or sludger consisting of a hollow cylinder with a ball or clack valve at the bottom and used with a flush of water to remove debris.

Shooting: Inducing a well to flow by means of explosives fired at the bottom of the hole. The act of exploding a charge, usually nitroglycerin, in a drill-hole to shatter the sand and to increase the inflow of oil through the crevices thus formed.

Shot Drill: A boring drill using chilled steel shot as an abrasive after the manner of a diamond drill; an earth-boring drill using steel shot as an abrasive.

Show: The first appearance of oil from a well, usually noticed as a rain bow on the water from the well. It requires practice to distinguish this rainbow film from the films formed from lubricating oils used in the drilling; also, any appearance of oil that is too small to measure in barrels, or too insignificant to produce.

Showings: Presence in a well or in the bailing of small quantities of petroleum, or recognized indications thereof.

Solidified Gasoline: Gasoline converted into jelly by a process in which stearic acid, having previously undergone prolonged treatment with hydrochloric acid at a high temperature, is dissolved in the gasoline.

Solidified Petroleum: The following are two of the best known methods which have been resorted to in attempting to “solidify” petroleum for use in grates: (1) absorption of the oil by a porous material, preferably itself combustible, as dry peat; (2) the production of a jelly-like emulsion by the addition of soap or of a fatty oil and alkali to form a soap. Kerosene is converted into a jelly for convenience in shipping.

Stocks (Oil): Petroleum in storage awaiting transfer of ownership or utilization. As defined by the U. S. Geological Survey, producer's stocks include petroleum held on producing properties, termed lease storage, pipe line and tank farm stocks; petroleum that has been removed from producing properties but not delivered to refineries or to other consumers, and is being held on tank farms, in tanks along pipe lines and pipe lines themselves.

Stove-Pipe: (1) Known as light riveted pipe of large diameter, used in starting a well. (2) Casing built up from riveted rolled steel or iron sheets, sometimes used for the first string of casing Inserted in a well.

Strainer: Slotted or wire-wrapped perforated pipe for running into the oil sand when finishing a well.

Sun Test: Test intended to show stability of the color of an oil on exposure to sunlight.

Tank Farm: A term applied to a battery of storage tanks.

Tank Station: A tank farm located alongside of a pipeline.

Tank Steamer: An ocean-going vessel In which oil is transported in bulk.

Tankstrapper: One who measures the capacity of tanks, a gauger.

Temper Screw: (1) Part of a drilling rig used to regulate the force of the blow of the drill bit. (2) A long screw encased In a steel frame for connecting the wire line to the walking beam and lowering a string of cable tools as the hole is made.

Term Oil Royalty: One which runs for a definite period of months or years, and then terminates and returns to the original landowner.

Tester (Casing): A vessel run below the casing and left in position a few hours to test for water leakage.

Testing: All petroleum products including crude oil require various physical or chemical tests before being marketed. They must conform with recognized standards to ascertain the specific gravity and flash point, determine the percentage of water and dirt, viscosity as well as color, and in the case of paraffin the "melting point." Crude is also tested as to its sulphur content.

Thief: A device for drawing samples from an oilwell.

Topping: The removal by distillation of the comparatively small percentage of benzine or light engine distillate from the heavier crudes, i.e., the removal of the “tops”.

Topping Plant: Equipment for extracting the more volatile products from crude petroleum before it has run through the stills.

Torque Indicator: An instrument for recording the torque applied to the drill pipe during drilling.

Torsion Balance: An instrument used In geophysical survey to measure the rate of change in the value of the acceleration of the gravity at different points on the earth's surface.

Tubular Goods: Every well requires some casing or piping in its construction. In some wells a single column of casing to shut off the water is enough, in others several such are needed, each column being of a size to pass through the preceding column with the least possible lost space between the two. Frequently it is necessary to drive the columns of pipe instead of inserting them after the bore is prepared to receive them. In that case heavy pipe, called drive pipe, must be used. In drilling a well in a district where the geological formation is not well known it is much safer to use drive pipe.

Underreamer: An oil well tool for enlarging the hole.

Valve: Any contrivance such as a lid, cover, ball or slide that opens and closes a passage, whether by lifting and falling, sliding, swinging or rotating, as at the opening of, or inserted in, any pipe, tube, outlet, inlet, etc., to control the flow or supply of liquids, gases, or other shifting material.

Vaporphase System: A catalytic process of refining. This process consists of passing superheated oil vapors through a bed of solid catalyst for the production of anti-knock motor fuels.

Verst: A Russian mile measuring 3,600 feet in length. Term used very often in the 1800s and early 1900s Russian petroleum literature.

Vibrating Screen: Screen set up outside the derrick for cleansing sand and foreign matter from rotary mud fluid returned from the well.

Vibration: Judging the distance a stuck pipe is free by jarring up wards with a spear at some low point. The casing will vibrate if the spear has taken hold above the frozen place.

Wall Hook: A tool used to straighten up a bit or pipe which has been lost in the well.

Wash Pipe: Is a pipe of small diameter run inside a perforated pipe to conduct the water to the lower end of the screen pipe when washing out wells.

Washdown Spear: Rotary fishing tool equipped with a bit for penetrating cavings over the fish (the tool blocked in the borehole) and fitted with slips to obtain a bull-dog hold.

Washer: An apparatus (scrubber) in which the gases are washed.

Water Finder: An instrument used for ascertaining the amount of water in a tank containing oil.

Water Flush System: System of percussion drilling in which the water is forced to the bottom of the hole through the drill rods; a system of well boring in which percussion drills are used in connection with water forced down to the bottom of the hole through the drill rods. This water jet makes the tools cut better and washes the detritus up out of the hole.

Water Gas: A gas made by forcing steam over incandescent carbon (coke) whereby there results a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. It is sometimes used as a fuel, but usually is carbureted with illuminating constituents prepared from oil and used as illuminating gas. Steam passed through a mixture of hydrocarbons.

Water Packer: A device to cut off water from the lower levels of an oil well, or to separate two distinct flows of oil from different strata.

Water saturation: The fraction of the porosity that is filled with water - remaining assumed filled will petroleum or gas.

White Oil: A colorless and odorless viscous oil used in medicine, in the preparation of creams and ointments, and as a substitute for edible oils.

Wild Well: An oil well, the flow of which has not been brought under control.

Wire Rope: A rope whose strands are made of wires and twisted or woven together.

Working Barrel: The steel chamber in which the plunger and valves operate in a deep well pump; the body of a pump used in oil wells.

Working Interest: Represents the oil lease, which is a special contract between the landowner and the oil company, by which permission is given to explore and develop its oil resources. Such leases are granted on a royalty basis. All costs of development and operations are borne by the working interest.

Worm: A coil of pipe for condensing vapors.

Wrist Pin: A steel pin fitted in the band wheel crank; the position of this pin in the crank regulates the stroke of the tools.

Yield: The proportion of petroleum or gas, etc., obtained in mining; production; extraction; recovery.

See also


Bacon, Raymond Foss, William Allen Hamor, and Frederick G. Clapp. The American Petroleum Industry, Volume 1&2. New York, London: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1916.

DeGolyer, Everette L (ed.). Elements of the Petroleum Industry. New York: American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, 1940.

Garner, F.H. (ed). Modern Petroleum Technology. London: Institute of Petroleum; New York: Wiley & Sons, 1946.

Hager, Dorsey. Oil-Field Practice. New York: McGraw-Hill. 1921.

Hager, Dorsey. Fundamentals of the Petroleum Industry. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1939.

Hilchie, Douglas W. Wireline: a history of the well logging and perforating business in the oil fields. Golden, Colo: D.W. Hilchie. 1990.

Johnson, Roswell Hill, Huntley, Louis Grow. Principles of oil and gas production. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1916.

Leven, David D. Done in oil. New York: The Ranger Press, Inc. 1941.

Mitzakis, Marcel. Oil encyclopedia. London: Chapman & Hall, 1922

Suman, John R. Petroleum production methods. Houston: Gulf Publishing Co. 1921.