OIL RIG BEGINNINGS AROUND THE WORLD
Embarking on the World’s Greatest Energy Resource
It used to be said that “money makes the world go round”; yet, in truth, oil and gas energy resources are the main factors that still grossly affect global economies. Though the world’s earliest documented discoveries of oil wells can be dated back to ancient times in China and Babylon, true mass production using oil rigs did not take place until modern times.
Early History of Land Drilling
When it comes to pinpointing a specific location as to where land drilling officially began, it’s best to view its history as an assortment of simultaneous events. After all, discoveries and developments in oil and gas exploration were happening all around the world and within the same time period.
From the late 1700’s to the late 1800’s, a significant boom in oil and gas discovery, methods of extraction, and exploratory locations were taking place primarily in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Back then, common uses for oil and gas primarily consisted of oil lamps, machine lubrication, and wax to name a few. Prior to “liquid rock” was the coal boom, used for machine fuel and heat.
However, it’s commonly noted that modern drilling started in the 1840’s with the 1st ever operation of a percussion tool drilling apparatus in Scotland. Just a decade later, Edwin Drake and George Bissell developed the first successful United States drilling rig and tool operation from a commercial well that Drake designed in the state of Pennsylvania. Consequently, this set off America’s oil exploration boom of the 1860’s.
Prior to that time in the 1820’s, there had been other significant advancements. These included the discovery of America’s first gas well, four-legged Derricks, and the first established oil well. By 1841, drilling jars and drill pipes were patented in the US. As such, full-swing operations of rotary oil rigs in the United States have since been an essential part of oil drilling equipment for the exploration, development, and production of both oil and natural gas since the 20th century.
Types of Oil Rigs Currently Used
While early rigs consisted of derricks made of wooden structures, which were abandoned at the well site, modern-day oil rigs are much more sophisticated. Replacing the derricks with steel masts allows oil rigs to be used at multiple well sites, not to mention, they are significantly easier to assemble and maintain.
Land rigs, such as fit for purpose rigs, are specifically designed for the environments in which they will operate. For example, if rigs must travel where no roads exist, they are often assembled directly onto motorized equipment with large wheels to support its unpaved journey. With walking rigs, the land rig is accompanied by feet able to move short distances to allow the ability to drill multiple wells. This is particularly common in shale operations.
Shale Gas and Fracking
Hydraulic fracturing contributes immensely to the current increase in drilling and production in the US, specifically with respect to shale gas production. Though George Mitchell wasn’t the first to invent and explore hydraulic fracturing (fracking), his tenacity to continue expanding on the concept in the 1970’s through the 1990’s, finally paid off when he found a way to free natural gas from tight shale reservoirs.
In fact, the idea of fracking, exploration, and documentation began in 1947. At that time, the process was purely experimental and wasn’t performed commercially. However, the legwork from this innovative technology proved useful to the Department of Energy research by the 1970’s. Along with Mitchell’s successful exploration, by the 1990’s, energy industries recognized that the fracking method could exponentially help improve well extraction and productivity. Since the 2010’s this breakthrough technology has helped transform industries and global economies. In the US alone, horizontal oil rig drilling technology has helped account for over 35% of our natural gas production from shale.
The EIA, in its Annual Energy Outlook 2012 with Projections to 2035, stated that oil will maintain its global position as the dominant fuel of choice through 2035. Furthermore, worldwide oil demand is calculated to increase at a rate of 18 percent by 2035, which contributes to a demand of nearly 99 million barrels per day.
MSI Pipe Protection Technologies is among the leading providers of land and offshore pipe protection products and accessory equipment around the world. As an ISO certified provider, we’re proud to serve in the oil and gas industry which so largely serves our economies. Our goal is to continue to manufacture products that help you deliver, all day, every day.