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Glossary of Industry Terms


Cable-Tool Drilling

One of two primary methods of drilling for crude oil and natural gas. Cable-tool drilling is the older method and consists of raising and dropping a heavy drill bit, suspended from the end of a cable, to pound and pulverize its way through subsurface structures. Water put in the hole keeps cuttings in suspension and they are removed at regular intervals by bailing.


Cap Rock

Impermeable rocks such as shale, overlying the reservoir rock and trapping natural gas and crude oil in the reservoir.



A group of compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.


Carbon Dioxide ( CO2 )

A non-toxic gas produced by decaying materials, the respiration of plant and animal life, and the combustion of organic matter, including fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas produced by human activities.


Carbon Monoxide ( CO )

Colorless, odorless, poisonous gas produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels.



In a geological sense, carbonate refers to rocks consisting of limestone ( CaCO3 ) and CaMg(CCO3)2. Limestone is made up of skeletal fragments of marine organisms and/or chemically precipitated CaCO3 or CaMg(CO3)2 cements and pellets.



Pipe that is used to encase smaller diameter production pipe installed in a well. Casing prevents the wall from collapsing and protects against groundwater contamination and uncontrolled release of hydrocarbons.


Casing-Head Gasoline ( Naphtha )

A highly volatile liquid that is separated from natural gas at the wellhead. It was once used as unrefined gasoline.


Cat Cracking ( Catalytic Cracking )

A refining process that uses catalysts, pressure and heat to convert heavier fuel oil into lighter products such as gasoline and diesel fuel. Cracking refers to breaking long, heavy carbon molecules into smaller, lighter molecules.



Materials that facilitate chemical reactions.


Cathodic Protection

A technique for preventing corrosion in metal pipelines and tanks, using weak electric currents to offset the current accompanying metal corrosion.


Centrifugal Pump

A pump that uses rotation to take in fluids near its centre and accelerate them as they move to the outlet on its outer rim. They are commonly used on large-volume oil and natural gas pipelines.


Christmas Tree

The valve assembly on the top of a natural gas well ( or a free-flowing crude oil well ) that provides the capability for primary pressure reduction, production rate control and a shut-in.



The delivery point or point of connection between long-distance transmission pipelines     ( usually interprovincial or interstate ) and local distribution companies.


Made up of pieces ( clasts ) of older rock; rock derived from mechanical processes; generally sandstone, siltstone or shale.


Climate Change

Term used to refer to the proposition that the Earth's temperature and climate will change, in part, as a result of the buildup of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.



The process of burning natural gas and another fuel. Cogeneration: The simultaneous production of electricity and steam from one energy source  ( e.g., natural gas, oil, biomass ).  Also, the practice of burning organic/plant material            ( biomass ) along with coal in coal-fired boilers.


Coal Gas

A mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane, produced by distilling coal. It was once used as a primary fuel for heating and lighting.


Coalbed Methane

Natural gas generated during the transformation of plant material into coal. It is trapped within coal seams and commonly referred to as natural gas from coal.



Technology that simultaneously produces power and thermal energy ( heat and steam ) from a single fuel source such as natural gas. An example is using the steam generated for reservoir injection to also generate electricity.


Coiled Tubing

A continuous, jointless hollow steel pipe that is stored on a reel and can be uncoiled or coiled repeatedly as required. Coiled tubing is increasingly being used in well completion and servicing instead of conventional joined sections of pipe.



A high-content carbon material resembling fine, ground up asphalt. It is a by-product of the industrial coking process.



Process of heating coal in aC coke oven in the absence of air to high temperatures between 1,000° C and 1,100° C for 16 to 20 hours to produce a very pure form of carbon. Coke is used in steel production. The term also refers to removing carbon from bitumen to produce lighter hydrocarbons.


Combined-Cycle Generation

When the steam generated in a cogeneration or combined cycle process is used to create additional electricity. In this way, the efficiency of electricity production is increased.


Commingled Gas

A homogeneous mix of natural gas from various physical ( or contracted ) sources.


Common Depth Point Method

A method of recording and processing seismic data so that signals from the same subsurface point are brought together.



Preparing a newly drilled well for production. This usually involves setting casing pipe that lines the interior of a well to prevent collapse, to protect ground water from contamination and to prevent it from reaching the producing formation.


Compressed Natural Gas ( CNG )

Natural gas that has been compressed to about one per cent of its volume and stored at a pressure of 20,000 to 27,500 kilopascals.



Increasing the pressure on natural gas to move it through pipelines or other facilities.


A pump used to boost natural gas pressure to move it through pipelines or other facilities.


Compressor Station

Facilities containing compressors that supply the energy needed to move natural gas through pipelines at increased pressures.



Liquids recovered in the production of natural gas. It consists primarily of pentane and heavier hydrocarbons.



The use of energy and energy sources, such as natural gas, typically measured in thousands of cubic feet or millions of British thermal units, or crude oil and petroleum products, usually measured in litres or barrels.


Conventional Crude Oil

Crude oil that flows naturally without having to be pumped or that can be pumped without being heated or diluted.


Conventional Gas

Natural gas that can be sourced using recovery techniques normally employed by the oil and gas industry. As new techniques are developed, the distinction between conventional and unconventional gas is becomes less clear.



A cylindrical sample of rock cut by a special bit for evaluation during the drilling process.



A refining process that increases the yield of gasoline from crude oil. It involves breaking down larger, heavier and more complex hydrocarbon molecules into simpler and lighter molecules by using heat and pressure, and sometimes a catalyst. With heavy oil and oil sands, cracking involves breaking down large, heavy and complex hydrocarbon molecules into simpler, lighter molecules of other products.


Critical Sour Gas Wells

A sour gas well that has the potential to release enough poisonous hydrogen sulphide to affect nearby residents.


Critical Zone

The zone around a well where sour gas will likely be encountered.


Crown Land

Land for which the mineral rights are owned by the federal or provincial governments in Canada.


Crude Oil

Naturally occurring liquid petroleum.


Cubic Foot

The volume of gas that fills a cube that is one foot by one foot by one foot under defined temperature and pressure conditions. The standard pressure is 14.73 pounds per square inch ( 101.6 Kilopascals ) and the standard temperature is 60° Fahrenheit ( 15.56° Celsius ).


Cumulative Effects

Changes to the environment caused by a human activity, that are added to the effect of other past, present and reasonably foreseeable activities.



Small chips of rock bored from the formations through which the drill bit has passed. They are brought to the surface by drilling mud.


Cyclic Steam Stimulation

A method of producing heavy oil which involves injecting steam to heat and soften the heavy oil in a formation and then producing the oil from the same wellbore used to inject the steam.