In 2010, the United States produced roughly 5 million crude oil barrels every day. This is in addition to the nearly 10 million crude oil barrels that the country imported from foreign countries. After the oil is removed from the ground, it is refined into an assortment of other products such as heating oil, kerosene and gasoline. Since the demand for oil is so great, especially in the United States and China, oil exploration companies such as Sentry Energy must always keep looking for untapped locations where oil can be drilled. What exactly is involved in the process of drilling for oil? How does it happen? Let’s take a look at what goes into finding the stuff that sent Jed Clampett to Beverly Hills.

1. Locating the oil

Before you can drill oil, you obviously need to find it. Large sums of money are invested in expeditions for the purpose of finding oil and making the investors rich. While this is far from an exact science, modern technology has allowed these expeditions to be successful far more often than they used to be. There are companies that not only specialize in drilling for oil, but locating it first. Geologists are hired by these firms to use their knowledge in an attempt to locate the ideal conditions where an oil trap could be formed. They look for just the right entrapment and reservoir rock. Satellite imagery is utilized to allow the geologists to easily study the terrain and surface rocks of a given area. Flowing oil is sometimes indicated by small changes in the gravitational field of the planet. These changes can be detected with the use of gravity meters. Small changes in the planet’s magnetic field could also be a sign of flowing oil. These are detected by using magnetometers.

2. Oil rig

Once the oil has been located, an oil rig is erected at the site. The tall structure that holds the drill as it operates is called a derrick. Its height is sufficient to enable new drill pipe sections to be installed as drilling continues.

3. The drilling process

The first step is to drill a surface hole to a predetermined depth. This will be slightly higher than where the reservoir of oil is located. After the hole has been drilled deep enough, concrete is laid into place and sections of pipe are installed so the hole will not collapse. This process is done in stages. A crew will drill for a while, then add more pipe and concrete to continually ensure that the hole remains stable. When oil sand from reservoir rock is finally revealed, the oil reservoir will be close. The drill is then removed and tests are performed. Core samples are removed and studied to determine if reservoir rock is present.

4. Removing the oil

Once it has been conclusively determined that oil is in fact where it is supposed to be, the one step that remains is removing it from the ground. The rig is taken apart and a pump is installed on the head of the well. An electric motor operates the pump system that sends a polishing rod in an upward and downward motion. A sucker rod is attached to the polishing rod, which also has a pump attached to it. The pump is forced up and down, causing the oil to be sucked up through the well.

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