back to list

Incredible Engineering Behind Oil

The process of extracting oil out of the Earth


What's going on?

Did you know that the world used 100 million barrels of oil every single day in 2019? That is a sheer amount and is doubly alarming as oil is a non-renewable and finite resource. With that, oil companies are continually looking to meet the high demand through the discovery of new oil reserves. Despite the inherently polluting nature of oil, the process required to extract it from its undersea sources is an engineering marvel. In fact, an offshore oil rig is the largest structure ever moved, and the drills can extend up to 1,200 meters into the ocean, which surpasses the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa at 829 meters.


To discover oil in the first place, oil companies have to use specialized equipment which tests seawater for trace amounts of oil. Additionally, they also rely on magnetic and seismic machines to locate deposits. An oil platform takes roughly up to 3 years to build with a cost of approximately $650 million, making it a substantial investment. For the extraction process, the drill has to go down in 10-metre sections extending it as necessary to get to the oil. Even when the drill has reached the oil, there is still the danger of high pressure forcing the oil into an explosion on the surface.


Given all this, the workers on oil rigs have to contend with many hazards on top of working in shifts, as oil rigs are continually working 24 hours a day without a break. With the danger and intense requirement of the job, workers are compensated fairly well as oil rig employees are paid about $50,000 a year for an entry-level position. In contrast, senior employees get over $200,000 a year.


The Engineering and Construction of Offshore Oil Platforms