From the Ground to Your Tank: The Role Carburizing Plays in the Manufacturing of Oil Drill Bits-Part 1

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The gas that fuels your vehicle begins its journey from deep in the ground. Crude oil is a naturally occurring, unrefined liquid fossil fuel found in the earth. Also known as petroleum, crude oil consists of hydrocarbon deposits and other organic materials, such as nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen. The components form a variety of molecular structures. Regardless of the variations, though, most crude oil ranges from 82 to 87 percent carbon by weight and 12 to 15 percent hydrogen by weight.

Petroleum companies must refine the crude oil before it is suitable for use as fuel, of course, but first they must bring the oil from underground reservoirs to the surface through drilling. Retrieving the oil is no easy task, as these reservoirs can be hundreds or thousands of feet deep. Drilling is the only way to reach the oil.

To extract the crude oil from deep within the earth, industrial drilling equipment is used. The drill bits used during this process need to be strong enough to break through the rocky surface of the earth, which is the first step in creating the gasoline your vehicle uses as fuel. Carburization is a manufacturing process used on drill bits used in the oil and gas industry that increases their strength and durability. The process of carburization is performed in an industrial furnace such as those manufactured by Lindberg/MPH.

Drilling for Oil

There are several types of oil drilling procedures. The most common type is rotary drilling, which is readily identifiable as a tall oil derrick and a rotating turntable at its base. A drill bit, which can measure anywhere from 5 to 50 inches, bores into the ground.

The rotating motion of the drill bit wears down the ground to create a deep hole. After drilling a section, workers drop a section of pipe into the ground; the pipes prevent the collapse of the borehole and allows for deeper exploration. The pipe is usually a bit smaller than the diameter of the hole; workers frequently fill in the gap between the pipe and the hole with cement to create a casing that provide structural integrity to the hole.

After reaching the reservoir, the workers introduce high-pressure water, acid or other fluids into the hole to clean and fracture the rock. This causes the rock to release the hydrocarbons that eventually become fuel for your vehicle.

Check back next month for information on the history of drilling for oil and the evolution of drilling tools through the years to increase their strength and durability.

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