Well service equipment operators perform various specialized services. Their duties and job titles vary from one employer to another and one type of service to another. In general, they:
- Prepare trucks, equipment, materials, and supplies
- Deliver equipment and materials to well sites
- Meet with rig personnel to discuss and plan specialized operations
- Use hand tools to assemble and connect equipment
- Direct and assist helpers, floorhands, and derrickhands in the use of hoisting equipment where necessary
- Monitor control panels and operate equipment controls
- Keep records and prepare reports about service operations
- Train and supervise helpers
- Service and maintain equipment
Pumping services involve the use of high-pressure pumping equipment and chemicals, fluids, or gases. Different operations require different materials. Pump equipment operators often provide a specific service:
- Cementing services are needed when an oil or gas well is being cased, or for remedial work. During cementing, a special mixture of cement, water, and additives is pumped through the casing or tubing to seal and secure it.
- Acidizing or fracturing (fracking) services may be needed to increase the flow of oil or gas from a well. In acidizing, a strong acid such as hydrochloric acid is pumped into the well to open flow channels in the rock. In fracturing, a treating fluid containing granular material (called sand) is pumped under pressure into the well. This fractures the underground rock formation, creates channels in the rock formation, and improves production.
- Nitrogen injection services involve pumping nitrogen gas combined with acidizing or fracturing fluids into wells. This can increase the flow of oil or gas, displace fluid from the well bore, or pressure test well heads and tubing.
Depending on the job, pump equipment operators may have added responsibilities, such as mixing materials.
Coil tubing operators insert the continuous coiled tubing used to pump fluids, such as water, oil, acid, and nitrogen gas, down a well. This can stimulate formation, clean out the wellbore, or condition the well for other services. Coiled tubing can also supply mechanical force to operate downhole tools and equipment. It can also be used during fracking operations to reach specific areas of the well bore or for milling out plugs.
Completion or service tool operators install completion equipment. This controls reservoir pressures and production flow.
Fishing tool operators, sometimes called downhole tool operators, use tools designed to retrieve objects that must be removed from the well bore before work can proceed. They meet with drilling personnel to determine the best method and tool to use. They also direct tool assembly and operation.
Power tong and casing operators use hydraulic power tongs to connect casing as it is lowered into a well. They manage hydraulic controls that provide power, operate the power tongs, and monitor pressure gauges. Pressure gauges ensure the correct amount of pressure is applied to connect casing joints properly. Combined with cementing, casing stabilizes recently drilled well holes.
Swabbing unit operators use specialized equipment to pull fluid from the well bore so oil or gas can flow on its own pressure.
For information about snubbing services, see the Snubbing Services Operators and Supervisors occupational profile.