Makin' Hole: How Oilwells are Drilled?


Published on Dec 6, 2014

An oil well is a boring in the Earth that is designed to bring petroleum oil hydrocarbons to the surface. Usually some natural gas is produced along with the oil. A well that is designed to produce mainly or only gas may be termed a gas well.

The well is created by drilling a hole 12 cm to 1 meter (5 in to 40 in) in diameter into the earth with a drilling rig that rotates a drill string with a bit attached. After the hole is drilled, sections of steel pipe (casing), slightly smaller in diameter than the borehole, are placed in the hole. Cement may be placed between the outside of the casing and the borehole. The casing provides structural integrity to the newly drilled well bore, in addition to isolating potentially dangerous high pressure zones from each other and from the surface.

With these zones safely isolated and the formation protected by the casing, the well can be drilled deeper (into potentially more-unstable and violent formations) with a smaller bit, and also cased with a smaller size casing. Modern wells often have two to five sets of subsequently smaller hole sizes drilled inside one another, each cemented with casing.



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