Snubbing Operator Spotlight

Snubbing Operators work well under pressure. Literally. Snubbing is specialized oil and gas well maintenance performed on live wells that are still pressurized. Snubbing Operators use complex hydraulic systems to stabilize structures, fix problems and control compression.

What a typical day looks like:

This is no desk job. Snubbing Operators work high above a drilling site in a snubbing basket, which is located at the top of a very tall structure. While in the basket, they use pipe wrenches, control winch lines and manage a control panel for hydraulic jacks that push (or “snub”) drill pipe or tubing into and out of the wellbore of a live, producing well that is under pressure.

The job’s challenges don’t just live in the snubbing basket. Snubbing Operators travel extensively and often live in drilling camps or hotels until a job is complete. They work outdoors and operate in extreme weather situations and may be required to work long hours, nights or weekends. They also sometimes need to do heavy lifting at well sites that can be noisy and dirty.

The kinds of problems Snubbing Operators solve at work:

Because they work on live wells that are under pressure, Snubbing Operators use an Annular Blow Out Preventer (BOP) to create a seal to stabilize and control the well pressure. This means that they must calculate the BOP’s force and friction to make sure that the exact amount of force necessary is what is being used. No more. No less.

In the early stages of their careers, Snubbing Operators work on simpler, low-pressure jobs. As a Class 2 or 3 Operator, they will begin to deal with more complex jobs, such as live sour gas wells. After more on-the-job experience, Class 1 or 2 Supervisors can oversee operations under increasingly higher-pressure wells based on experience level.

Understandably, safety is always top of mind. Snubbing Operators are trained in a variety of safety courses, and work in full protective equipment, from hard hats to steel-toed boots.

Skills used most on the job:

Snubbing Operators spend their days solving problems by using complex equipment. They use pipe wrenches, winch lines and hydraulic jacks to push pipe into a wellbore that is under tension from production compression and the earth’s pressure. Then, as a Snubbing Operator uses the BOP to manage the well’s pressure, they also need to draw on mathematical skills.

The career of Snubbing Operator is full of pressures. Good thing managing that pressure is just what they’re good at.

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