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Let’s Visit an Oil Rig

Sara Miriam Gross

What was the main Chanukah miracle? That a little bit of pure olive oil, enough to keep the flames in the menorah of the Beis HaMikdash burning for one day, burned for eight whole days. Today, we’ll explore a place that’s full of a very different kind of oil. We’re going to visit an oil rig. Put on your special safety boots, thick raincoat, sturdy clothing, hard hat, and safety goggles and away we go!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Is an Oil Rig?

An oil rig is a structure where crude oil is taken from deep underneath the ground. Crude oil is oil that is natural and unprocessed. It looks black. This liquid also contains some natural gas, water, and sediment (bits of rock).

After the liquid is collected, it is sent in an oil tanker ship to a factory called a refinery, where it is cleaned. The oil is then used as gasoline and for manufacturing thousands of items such as petroleum jelly (that’s Vaseline to us), ballpoint pens, stockings, fishing rods, insect repellent, and even aspirin.

Around the world in places such as the United States, Canada, China, Norway, Venezuela, and many Arab countries, oil rigs are busy working round the clock bringing 80 million barrels of crude oil up to the surface each day. Since crude oil is found, not made in a factory, scientists and workers are constantly busy searching for it. Sometimes it can be spotted easily, if it seeps, meaning rises up, to the surface on its own, for example in the “tar seeps” of central California. But most of the time people have to drill to find it, either by using a drilling facility called an oil rig that is placed on the land or out in the middle of the sea.

Most oil rigs are onshore, meaning on land, because it is much cheaper and less complicated to drill there. Building a new oil rig on land “only” costs about $10 million. Rigs for the water, called offshore rigs, are built on land and then towed there on a massive barge, a boat with a flat bottom that is used to transport goods. Setting up a rig for shallow water can cost between $75 million and $175 million and up to $400 million if it is meant to stand in deep water!

Today, we’re headed to an offshore rig.


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