Petroleum Vocabulary Terms

(Condensed from the Drake Well Museum Educational Program’s Living the Lease Life, 1919)

OIL- unrefined petroleum as it comes from the ground

DERRICK- a wooden or steel structure that supports the tools and equipment for drilling or pulling a well

ENGINE HOUSE- a building housing the engine which operates drilling or pumping machinery on an oil lease

KEROSENE- a flammable liquid fuel usually used for lighting, made by distilling petroleum

NITROGLYCERIN- an explosive liquid used in the oil fields to "shoot a well;” invented in 1846, it has 13 times the explosive power of gun powder

PETROLEUM PRODUCTS- anything that comes from the refining or manufacturing of crude oil; these products can be anything from gasoline to grease or plastic

REFINING- the process of distilling crude petroleum to remove different usable products.  The kind of products that are removed change as the petroleum is heated to different temperatures

RODS- long iron sections, sometimes called shackle lines, that connect the engine in a central power house with pumping jacks located at many wells on a single lease

SHOOTING A WELL- placing a charge of nitroglycerin near the bottom of a well and exploding it to allow oil to flow into the well more freely; "Shooting" sometimes restored production in old wells and increased production in new ones

TORPEDO- a nitroglycerin-filled metal tube lowered into a well to "shoot" the well

YELLOW DOG- a teapot-shaped kerosene or coal oil lamp with one or two spouts and wicks, used for lighting on oil leases.  The fumes and smoke from these derrick lamps filled engine houses with soot and made it difficult to breathe.


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society