So I am currently enrolled in this class called PICP 1 (Petroleum Industry Career Path, and yes I had to look that up), offered here at the University of Utah. The class is pretty straight forward. In class 1 we learn about well logging and how to read all the scribbly lines that come back from placing large complicated devices down a little tiny hole. Well the best part of the class by far (and one of the better field trips I have been on) we went down to central Utah to look at an actual drill rig in action. Unfortunately I forgot my camera (damn it) but I did have my phone. And to my surprise the picture came out really well. So here they are:
Driving up we saw a lot of oil wells currently in production. One finishing up their drill and this one in full fledged drilling mode.
They use drilling mud which is a mixture of water and a whole lot of crap. What they do is they pump it down the drill pipeline and it shoots out through holes in the drill bit. This helps keep the bit cool and provides a way to remove all the rocks and flour produced by the rotating bit. Well if you look at the pond above you can see the surface is covered with oil and muck. What is really cool is they had not even gotten to the oil producing layers yet! This is all just stuff in the other rocks layer not worth producing.
This is an actual drill bit that they would use. I'm not sure what the black spots are though. I think they are a variety of compressed carbon but I could be wrong.
Now starting with this picture and going through the next several you will see them actually adding in a new piece of drilling pipe. One of the pictures I think I messed up the order but you get the general gist of it. They disconnect the old connection. The water rushes out that is in the pipe. They move the top piece over to a new piece of pipe. Attach it. Lift the whole thing up and add it back in to the old piece. It was awesome that we got to see this in person.