Monday, February 4, 2013

Jerker Line Systems...

Power distribution.  When we think of that term today, what comes right to mind is electricity.  If we think a little harder, we might also think of the petroleum industry as a power distribution system.  Most of us would not think of “jerker line systems”, if for no other reason than we never heard of them.

In the early '60s, my dad, my brother and I took a trip out to the Western U.S. (from New Jersey) in my dad's beat-up 1948 Dodge.  We visited the oil fields of Texas and Oklahoma, and somewhere in those fields we saw several of these jerker line systems in action.  At the time we had no idea what they were called, but it was obvious how they worked: the back-and-forth action of the steel cables, often slithering along the ground, were operating oil pumps.  The motion of the cables made a distinctive sound.  We followed a cable from one of the pumps back to the electric motor that ran it (much like the one pictured here).  In the case of the one we followed, the motor was perhaps 500 yards from the pump – and that single motor was running three pumps.

We thought it was quite ingenious at the time.  It was most definitely low tech; a guy with a monkey wrench and some oil could maintain the entire thing, and it was obvious how it worked.

I wonder how they do this today?  Probably an electric motor in each pump, I'm guessing.  The advent of horizontal drilling has probably greatly reduced the number of well sites, too...

No comments:

Post a Comment