Drilling 101

The actual process of drilling a petroleum well is a high-tech engineering operation overseen by a number of industry experts. To help you understand the basic principles and mechanics of drilling operations we have compiled a range of information to more simply detail the process.

Additional information about well construction and production can be found on our Operational Process overview.

What is a rig?

The drilling rig is a machine designed for a single purpose: to drill both onshore and offshore oil and gas wells. A rig is often purpose-designed and built to withstand specific operating conditions – such as intense desert heat or below freezing temperatures.

Similarly, rigs are also used to drill wells offshore in water depths reaching up to four kilometers below the ocean’s surface. So while the location, depth of required drilling and conditions may vary, the fundamentals of drilling remain similar around the world.

There’s many parts that work together on a rig to drill a well – the interactive video produced by the International Association of Drilling Contractors details all the basics.

Offshore drilling

This video produced by Shell explains the basics of how offshore deep-water wells are drilled, including explanations and visualisation of important components, processes and techniques that drilling rigs use today to safely drill wells.

Onshore drilling

Onshore, the process of drilling is much the same and advances in technology over the years have enabled industry to drill horizontally as detail in the video below.

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