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Glossary of Industry Terms


Salt Cavern

An underground cavern which has been created in a salt dome by the solution mining process for use as a natural gas storage facility.



A compacted sedimentary rock composed mainly of quartz or feldspar. Oil, natural gas and/or water commonly accumulate in this rock. It is more coarse than shale or siltstone.


Secondary Recovery

The process of injecting water or natural gas into a producing reservoir to maintain its pressure and enhance recovery of oil


Sedimentary Basin

A geographical area, such as the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin ( WCSB ), in which much of the rock is sedimentary (as opposed to igneous or metamorphic) and is therefore likely to contain hydrocarbons.


Sedimentary Rocks

Rocks formed by the accumulation of sediment or organic materials and therefore likely to contain hydrocarbons. They include sandstone, limestone, siltstone and shale.


Seismic Method

A method of mapping subsurface structures using data derived from transmitting sound energy into the earth and recording the signal reflected back from the geology.


Seismic Surveys

Running one or more 2-D or 3-D seismic lines over a large area and using the data acquired to create detailed models of underlying geological formations and find oil and gas reservoirs.


Service Rig

A truck-mounted rig, usually smaller than a drilling rig, that is brought in to complete a well, perform maintenance, replace equipment or improve production.


Set Casing

To install steel pipe or casing in a well bore. An accompanying operation is the cementing of the casing in place by surrounding it with a wall of cement extending to all or part of the well.



A sedimentary rock formed from clay and fine grained sediment.


Shale Shaker

A vibrating screen for sifting out rock cuttings from drilling mud during drilling operations.



The reduction in volume of wet natural gas as a result of the extraction of some constituents, such as hydrocarbon products, hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, helium and water vapour.


Shut-in Well

A well that has been completed but is not producing. A well may be shut-in for tests, repairs, to await construction of gathering lines, or better economic conditions.

Smart Pig

Sophisticated instrument packages sent through pipelines to test for corrosion and buckling.



Brown summer polution that intermittently forms over some cities. It is comprised of ground-level ozone ( nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and fine particulates ). Itcan be created by natural processes ( such as forest fires and volcanoes ) or human activity ( such as the burning of fossil fuels ). The name is derived from smoke and fog.


Solution Gas

Natural gas dissolved in crude oil in underground reservoirs. When the oil comes to the surface, the gas expands and comes out of the oil.


Sour Gas

Raw natural gas with a relatively high concentration of sulphur compounds, such as hydrogen sulphide. All natural gas containing more than one per cent hydrogen sulphide is considered sour. About 30 per cent of Canada's natural gas production is sour, some toxic, most found in Alberta and NE British Columbia.


Sour Oil

Oil containing sulphur compounds such as hydrogen sulphide.


Source Rock

The rocks in which hydrocarbons are created or sourced from carbohydrates through heat and pressure. Source rocks are often black shales.



Controlled or accidental release of a substance to land or water ( oil, emulsion, produced water or other liquids ).


Spudding In

The stage of beginning to drill a well.



People with an interest in industry activities that affect them. They may include landowners, Aboriginal communities, recreational land users, other industries, environmental groups, governments and regulators.


Steam Injection

A process in which steam is injected into a reservoir to reduce the viscosity of the crude oil. One of the in-situ methods of producing bitumen.


Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage ( SAGD )

An in-situ method of producing heavy oil which involves two horizontal wellbores, one above the other. Steam is injected into the upper and softened bitumen is recovered from the lower.



Enhancing the production of a well; includes acidizing and fracturing the reservoir as well as removing wax and sand from the wellbore.


Straddle Extraction Plant

A gas processing plant located on or near a gas transmission line to remove natural gas liquids from the gas and return it to the line.


A yellow mineral extracted from petroleum, used to make fertilizers, pharmaceuticals and other products.


Sulphur Oxides ( SOx )

Gases produced mostly from human activities      ( such as metal smelting, and fossil fuel combustion by factories, power plants and motor vehicles ). Sulphur dioxide combines with water vapor to form sulphuric acid, a contributor to acid rain. Human exposure to sulphur dioxide emissions can also cause respiratory problems.


Sulphur Recovery

Sour gas is processed at recovery plants to extract ( prill ) sulphur for sale to fertilizer manufacturers and other industries. The average rate of sulphur recovery at Alberta's sulphur recovery plants improved from 97.5 per cent in 1980 to 98.8 per cent in 2000.


Surface Casing

The first string of casing installed in a well; it is cemented into place to shut out shallow water formations and as a foundation for well control.


Surface Rights

The rights to areas of land used for drilling pads, oil batteries, gas plants and service roads.



Ecosystem condition in which biodiversity, renewability and resource productivity can be maintained over time.


Sustainable Development

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs ( defined by United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development ).


Sweet Crude Oil

Crude oil containing less than 0.5% sulphur.


Sweet Gas

Raw natural gas with a relatively low concentration of sulphur compounds such as hydrogen sulphide.



To remove hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide from sour gas to make it marketable.



A fuel produced from solid hydrocarbons such as coal and petroleum coke. The process uses steam, air and controlled amounts of oxygen to break down the solid. The resulting gas consists of vaying amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.


Synthetic Crude Oil

A mixture of hydrocarbons, similar to crude oil, derived by upgrading bitumen from oil sands.