How It Works: Oil Field Pumps

April 8, 2019

Petroleum is everywhere—from the gas you put in your car, to the fuel used to heat your home, to the asphalt on the road. Like it or not, petroleum literally flows through American society. We need a lot of oil to fuel America, which is why throughout history engineers have worked to find better and more efficient ways to pull oil from the ground. Today, if you drive through any of our states that are known for oil production, you are bound to see fields of oil pumps.

Oil pumps are a part of the American landscape and a symbol of our power and industry. But have you ever wondered how these oil pumps work? As a local industrial electrician in Carlsbad, NM, oil pumps are one of our areas of expertise, so today we thought we would provide a little insight into how they work.

What is an oil pump?

An oil pump, also known as a pump jack (among other names), is a counterbalanced oil well jack. These pumps physically extract oil from the ground by creating artificial lift. To sum it up, a pump jack operates by increasing the pressure within an oil well in order to pull the oil to the surface. Oil pumps vary in size, with some being small enough to fit in the back of a pickup truck. The typical pump is made of an A-shaped form topped with a long beam, with one end of the beam connected to a motor. Because of its design, people often think the visible part of the oil pump looks like a bobbing horse’s head.

How does an oil pump work?

The real work the pump is doing, the actual pumping, occurs under the ground. A string of pipes runs from the “horse head” of the oil pump to the reservoir at the bottom of the oil well. This system of pipes includes two chambers that are sealed with ball valves. When the rod system moves downward, the valve on a plunger opens, which allows oil to fill the reservoir and forces the fluids in the pipe above it upwards. When the plunger reaches the bottom of the upward-and-down stroke, the ball valve closes, holding the fluids in place. Meanwhile, the ball on the fixed standing valve at the bottom of the well moves out of the way, allowing oil to collect above the standing valve. When the plunger descends again, the second ball closes, which traps the oil where it can make its way up the string of pipes to the surface.

Oil pumps pump around 20 times a minute while extracting oil. If something goes wrong with the pump, every minute the pump is down results in the loss of money. That’s where JB Electric LLC can help. We specialize in oil field pump installs in Carlsbad, NM, among a variety of other oil field services. If you need a new oil pump or help with other equipment on your job site, we’re the team to call!

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