Industry Jargon: Oil and Gas Edition


In this field, almost every person, machine, and mechanism onshore has its own slang name.

Needless to say, that can make it difficult to follow conversations when you’re new to the industry. However, knowing the industry jargon is not just useful for understanding your coworkers, it’s also imperative for ensuring that your work is completed safely and correctly.

If you want to work in oil and gas, get a head start with this guide to the industry lingo.

Christmas tree – the fittings and valves connected to the top of a well which controls the rate of flow from the well

E.g. “I need you to open the surface Christmas tree.”

Derrick – the tower-like structure that controls most of the drilling and provides support for equipment being lowered in the well

E.g. “Your main responsibility will be rigging the derrick equipment and assisting the driller.”

E&A – the abbreviation for exploration and appraisal

E.g. “We’ll be conducting an E&A test tomorrow to find out the productivity of the wells.”

Fish – anything that’s fallen down the wellbore by mistake

E.g. “We got a fish in the well and we have to get it out.”

Frac job – another term for hydraulic fracturing (when an oil or gas well is stimulated by pumping special fluids into the reservoir)

E.g. “The city has halted this frac job until July.”

Grapple – name of tools used to recover fish from the wellbore

E.g. “We’ve got a grapple over here in case we need to fish.”

Joint – refers to the length of a pipe

E.g. “The casing hanger is attached to the topmost tubing joint.”

Motorman – the member of the crew responsible for maintenance of the engines

E.g. “When was the last time the motorman inspected this equipment?”

Pig – name of the tool used to clean a pipeline

E.g. “This pig over here is for the 28-inch pipeline.”

Sour Gas – Natural gas contaminated with chemicals, usually sulfur compounds, that causes a sour odour

E.g. “That sour gas really reeks.”

Wildcat well – an exploratory well that is drilled in an area that isn’t a known oil field

E.g. “We drilled a few wildcat wells up north but they turned out dry.”

Check out our Oil and Gas Career Guide to learn about this egg-citing industry!