Heavy Oil Science Centre - Overburden

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Completions and Workovers

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Newly Completed Well Site c. 1950
40-D pumping unit and
1000 barrel bolted storage tank

Additional photo of "Horsehead" pump jack
click here

The Heavy Oil Industry supports an active service industry.  It's sometimes said locally that every oil well generates a full time job in our community. The problems of heavy oil present some unique challenges but the technological innovations developed locally to deal with these problems have spread to the rest of the world's oil fields.  For example, enhanced recovery techniques developed for heavy oil are now assisting oil production from Mexico to the North Sea.

"Completing" a well can be very expensive. After drilling a well, someone must decide if the well is worth the expenses of completion. This is known to the investor as the casing point. Did the well encounter petroleum bearing reservoirs? If so, at what depth and how thick were the reservoirs? What is the oil saturation? Is there enough petroleum to make the well commercial?  If the answer is, "Yes" then all the technology to operate the well needs to be installed.   This area of expertise is known as "completions".    ... more

This is how one local service rig worker described part of his job: "Once the B.O.P.'s are tested, the pipe is ready to be pulled. First you get your slips out (they keep the pipe from falling down the hole) and latch onto your pup joint and pull your dog nut (this dog nut hangs your pipe in your well head). Then put your slips on the B.O.P.'s and take your dog nut off. Screw on a collar to replace your dog nut, this is so the elevators can pull up on the pipe. Place your pipe tongs so you can unscrew the pipe and you are off."

Once a well is in production, heavy oil wells usually encounter problems.  The well may "sand in", equipment may break,

Ruined parts 
Ruined parts - part of the cost of
keeping a Heavy Oil well in production.
 or new innovations may be attempted to increase the well's production.  This area of expertise is known as "workovers".  ... more 

For more about ruined parts - click here 

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For a bio. sketch of Hamish Garland - who spent his entire career working to maximize production - click here


For several articles on modern approaches to increasing production;
such as Cold Production -
Click here

For an article about various pumping systems used to produce heavy oil - click here

For an article about how the proliferation of Progressing Cavity Pumps requires redesign of other equipment - click here

For an article about how sand has gone from the enemy to "our friend" in the production of heavy oil - click here