Beyond the dead horse debate of whether hydraulic fracturing’s shortened phrase should include a “k” or not, the oil industry is home to some of the craziest slang I’ve ever read in my life. There are plenty of phrases, some popular while others are most likely outdated and obscure, that have given roustabouts in the fields a sort of clique lingo. Below are some of the strangest ones obtained from Oil150.com, a historical site that values the significance and impact petroleum has had in the United States for over 150 years.
5. Those active in the Marcellus Shale Play in Western Pennsylvania may have come across the term “Blood-Rock.” Although this sounds like a reference to the gritty shifty behavior of “There Will Be Blood,” by definition it’s the local name for the Big Red Sandstone, Clarion County, Pennsylvania.
4. Another colorful phrase from the eastern oil and natural gas field is “Chocolate Rocks.” It’s not a Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle tour name. It actually refers to bands of red shale occurring between the Second and Third Oil Sands in the Oil Creek, Pennsylvania, field. Also called putty rocks.
3. “Rope Choker”…You come up with your own R-rated punchline for this one, I don’t want that responsibility. But, according to Oil150, Rope Choker means a cable tool driller. The nickname most likely originated in a name-calling feud between the cable tool drillers and the rotary drillers. It is said that the cable tool drillers first began to call the rotary drillers “swivel necks” to show their scorn for the new methods of drilling. Resenting the insult that had been cast at their work, the rotary drillers retaliated by calling the cable tool drillers “rope chokers.” It has also been claimed that the cable tool drillers host this nickname because of their…ahem… intimate and skilled relationship with the Manila rope or rag line. Whether you’ll get beat up for throwing this out there the next time the crew is cracking on each other is up in the air.
2. In suit of oilfield putdowns, one might take offense to the term “Biscuit Cutter.” This is simply a clumsy derrick-worker who drops pipe and in doing so, leaves biscuit-like marks on the derrick floor. “Good going Biscuit Cutter, now I have to look at your failure for 12 hours a day.”
1. A term I’ve never heard of outside of William Hung’s American Idol tryouts: “Shebang.” The term means a temporary residence erected by those immigrants to the oil regions who expected to make their fortunes in a year and then retire. Ironic, given that in most media outlets and common conversations these womanless shebangs are referred to as man camps.