Time for Some Smiles; The Return of Laughable Oil and Gas Lingo

Kelsey Mulac
Cabot Oil & Gas
External Affairs, Pittsburgh

Let’s put aside the bitter, miserable opposition of fractivists for a moment and reflect again on the humorous nature of laughable oil and gas lingo, shall we?

We had previously posted a well-received blog post (also reposted here at NaturalGasNow) about the oil and gas lingo that often provides some good laughs for people who may not be familiar to the industry. Let’s revisit those examples from Well Said and Natural Gas Now.

Americans seem to have a knack for naming and renaming things. Nothing says innovative better than a catchy name, slogan or acronym. Every industry takes it upon itself to create their own lingo to describe their equipment, operations and sometimes employees. The oil and gas industry is no different. There could be a whole dictionary of oil and gas lingo.

As an intern with the industry I had to catch onto some of the lingo on the fly and, surprisingly, there have been multiple instances where one of these terms has induced some giggling. So I compiled a list of some of the oil and gas lingo that threw me for a loop when I first started. I’ve included my original guesses for your entertainment.

Yes, farm animals seem to be a reoccurring theme in this industry. Consider these examples:


My Guess: A farm animal, star of Charlotte’s Web, bacon, ribs, generally adorable pink creatures.

oil and Gas lingo

“Pig in a Bucket” – Ben Salter, Flickr

Oil and Gas Translation: Pipeline cleaning and measuring tool (also known as a pipeline inspection gauge or “PIG” and depicted below).

oil and gas lingo


My Guess: A person whose occupation is to release a pig during pig races at county fairs.

Oil and Gas Translation: Equipment used to insert a pig into the pipeline.


My Guess: A person whose occupation is to coral a runaway pig.

Oil and Gas Translation: Equipment used to remove the pig from the pipeline after cleaning and measuring

This video explains how a pig launcher, pig and pig catcher work to clean and measure a pipeline.


My Guess: The head of the common, yet majestic farm animal, the horse (Tom Shepstone’s horse “Big Dan” in this case).

Oil and Gas Lingo horse head

Oil and Gas Translation: The curved guide or head piece on the top of an oil well.


My Guess: A figurative place where people go when they’ve made a mistake; an outdoor shelter for a domesticated dog.

Oil and Gas Translation: The steel-sided room adjacent to the rig floor, usually having an access door close to the driller‘s controls. This general-purpose shelter is a combination tool shed, office, communications center, coffee room, lunchroom and general meeting place for the driller and his crew.

Oil and gas lingo isn’t limited to laughable animal terms, however. There’s plenty more. Here are some of them.


My Guess: Lovable bear with a weakness for honey from the children’s series “Winnie the Pooh.”

Oil and Gas Translation: Pull Out Of Hole.


My Guess: A piece of cloth carried around by an elderly woman used a variety of ways, often as a Kleenex for small children.

Oil and Gas Translation: Type of coating or method of coating a pipeline in the field rather than a factory applied coating.


My Guess: A day off from work.

Oil and Gas Translation: Hole in the protective coating of a steel pipeline.


My Guess: A cool car that was originally designed for military use on uneven terrain.

Oil and Gas Translation: Another term for a hole in the protective coating of a pipeline


My Guess: As in “stubbing your toe,” painful accident; can be a weekly occurrence for clumsy people.

Oil and Gas Translation: Length of a small diameter distribution pipeline from the main line to the customer’s property or meter location

There are several other terms from the industry that, while more straightforward than some of the above, still need interpretation. Like these:


As the child of two native Pittsburghers my original guess was derived from the common yinzer phrase “red up” which means “get ready.”

My Guess: Get dressed, prepare to leave, hurry

Oil and Gas Translation: To make ready for use. Equipment must typically be moved onto the rig floor, assembled and connected to power sources or pressurized piping systems.

Turns out I wasn’t too far off on this one.


My Guess: A logger who cuts down trees in very muddy conditions.

Oil and Gas Translation: A technician who uses chemical anlysis, micorscopic examination of the cuttings, and an assortment of electronic insturments to monitor the mud system for possible indications of hydrocarbons.


My Guess: The start of swim meets when the swimmers “kick off” form the wall or starting block.

Oil and Gas Translation:: The kickoff point is the location at a given depth below the surface where the wellbore is deviated in a given direction.

Oil and gas lingo


My Guess: Fresh cut evergreens people decorate to celebrate Christmas.

Oil and Gas Translation: An assembly of valves, gauges, and chokes mounted on a well casing head to control production and the flow of oil to the pipelines.

oil and gas lingo tree


My Guess: Dropping the rig and somehow leaving a black scratch on the well pad.

Oil and Gas Translation: Moving a derrick from one location to another on skids and rollers.

oil and gas lingo

Source: Drillmec Drilling Technologies


My Guess: The act of falling slightly or completely, over an inanimate object or simply one’s own foot.

Oil and Gas Translation: Making a “trip” is the procedure of pulling the entire string of drill pipe out of the borehole and hten running the entire length of the drill pipe back in the hole.


My Guess: Slang term that is a synonym for “cool” or “awesome.”

Oil and Gas Translation: Pipe coating.


My Guess: Piece of furniture often used to store clothing.

Oil and Gas Translation: Mechanical coupling used to join joints or lengths of pipe rather than threading or welding.

I hope that provides some insight into oil and gas lingo for those of you who may be unacquainted with the details of the industry.

Still more oil and gas lingo can be found here!

Reposted, with permission, from Well Said Cabot.

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2 thoughts on “Time for Some Smiles; The Return of Laughable Oil and Gas Lingo

  1. The oil and gas industry, especially the ‘upstream’ (production) segment, is one of the more colorful and exciting work environments to be found anywhere.

    The fact that the Appalachian Basin contains the most prodigious sources of hydrocarbons on the planet – bar none – should incentivize younger residents to take a serious look at these opportunities as they are without precedent in modern US history.

    Some ‘awl’ related job terms include Company Man, Tool Pusher, Driller, Derrickman, Roughneck, Roustabout, Hand, Worm.
    Activities include kicks, blowouts, bullheading, fishing.
    Locations include moon pools, monkey boards, crowns.

    Anyone willing to work long, work hard, and shun drug use is in a position to make an excellent living in the AB for many decades to come.

  2. Not unreasonable for the most part. The acronym PIG was made up 50 years after the industry started calling the pipeline cleaning devices (long before the fancy inspection tool in the picture was even technologically possible) for two reasons. First the early straw-in-a-wire-basket pigs kind of looked like a pig without legs. Second, the sound a pig running dry made was a distinctive squeal. How could you not call it a pig?

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