Read the interview with Michael Lennon.

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Read the interview with Michael Lennon.

I = Interviewer, M = Michael Lennon


I: How did you get started in the oil industry?

M: I left school at 16 and took a course in a car maintenance at the local technical college. I finished the course, but being a motor mechanic wasn’t a right career for me. I wanted something more adventurous so I got a job as a Roustabout on a North Sea rig.

I: What’s a Roustabout?

M: It’s about the lowest job you can get. A Roustabout is a labourer. You get a job as like painting and unloading supplies from the supply ships. Still, the money was good and the food was good too – hotel standard. Food’s important when you’re living in the middle of the sea in all kinds of weather for fourteen days at a time without a break. After a year I promoted to Roughneck.

I: What does a Roughneck do?

M: That’s a skilled job. You need physical strength but you also need to know exactly what to do at any time. Often you’re working with heavy drill pipes – adding pipes when you’re drilling or removing pipes when you’re breaking out the string.

I: Breaking out?

M: Removing the string of pipes from the borehole. You’re part of a team and you need to know exactly what you’re doing at any time to get the job done quickly and safely. Safety’s an important issue on the rigs. Before I could start on the rig, I had to take a course on Off-shore safety and survival at Montrose College. They teach you all sort of things, including how to escape from a helicopter just in case you come down in the sea.

I did quite well as a Roughneck and after a couple of years I was selected to do a Diploma in Off-shore drilling at a drilling school in Aberdeen. There were people there from all around the world – Nigeria, Oman, Vietnam. It was a good course. They had a rig floor simulator so you got practice in dealing with situations such as blow outs.

I: These can be dangerous.

M: Yes, that’s when you hit oil under high pressure and it’s forced up through the borehole. And fishing – recovering from borehole drill bits and tools which have become separated from the pipe.

I: What did you do after the course?

M: When I finished the course, I was qualified as an Assistant Driller. I worked on a North Sea rig for three years more then I moved to a warmer part of the world, the Gulf of Mexico, as a Driller with Texaco. I’m still working there but I’m married now with a family. I like to work but I’m hoping to get a shore based job as a Drilling Superintendent.


List these jobs in order of seniority.

Roustabout ____;

Assistant Driller ____;

Driller ____;

Roughneck ____;

Drilling Superintendent.


Answer the questions about Michael. Use the information from the interview and your own knowledge.

1. Why did he get his first job on an oil rig?

2. Why is food so important on an oil rig?

3. Why is being a Roughneck considered as a skilled work?

4. Why did his safety course include learning how to escape from a helicopter?

5. Why do oil-rig workers learn to fish?

6. Why is he going to get a shore-based job?


Complete a fragment of Michael Lennon’s CV.


Work experience


Dates 1997 – 98

Employer BP

Position held ________________________1

Dates 1998 – 2000

Employer BP

Position held ________________________2

Dates 2001 – 2004

Employer BP

Position held Assistant Driller

Dates 2004 to present

Employer ________________________3

Position held ________________________4


Montrose College ________________________5

Aberdeen Drilling School Diploma in _______________6



Text C


Read the title of the text. Have you ever heard about this engineer before?

Read the second abstract of the text. State if the sentences given below are true, false, or there is no such information in this abstract.

a. By the beginning of the 20th century the obsolete drilling technologies were supplanted by the up-to-date methods and techniques.

b. Changes in the drilling technology slowed down the development of the oil and gas industry.

c. The cost of drilling in the American method was considerably reduced.

3. Find and translate the abstracts containing the information about:

a. Biography of M.Kapelyushnikov;

b. Disadvantages of the old rotary method;

c. Advantages of the turbodrill method.




1.Among the technical breakthroughs in the world oil industry in the 1920s, a special place is held by the invention in 1922 of the reduction-geared, single-stage downhole turbodrill motor by the Russian engineer Matvey Kapelyushnikov, which opened the way for the mass introduction of turbodrilling in the industry.

2. In the mid-1920s the USSR's oil industry went through the technical reequipping. In drilling technology, the rod-tool percussion method had been replaced by the more productive technique of rotary drilling. By 1928-29, rotary drilling had become the undisputed champion of the domestic oil industry. Changes in drilling technology led to a more than tenfold increase in the speed of drilling. The production cost of drilling had come down as well. In the "American" method of reinforcing wells, fewer casing pipes were used than in the old percussion method. Well design was made considerably lighter, the initial diameter was now smaller, and the number of pipe strings was reduced.

3. As the American experience was being assimilated on Soviet oil fields, however, tests had already begun of a new method for drilling wells that would mark the opening of a new era in the development of the oil industry. Credit for this achievement goes to the talented Russian engineer Matvey Kapelyushnikov (1886-1959). In 1914, he graduated from the mechanical department of Tomsk Technological Institute and then worked as a designer at the Baku Society of Russian Oilmen. In May of 1920, he was appointed chief engineer at one of Baku's refineries.

At the beginning he appreciated the rotary drill that had replaced the archaic rod-tool percussion method on the oil fields of the Apsheron Peninsula. In rotary drilling, the rotor motor that rotates the drilling column with a bit at the end is located on the surface. If the length of the drilling column is considerable, all of its weight has to be rotated just to transmit the rotary motion to the little bit boring through the rock at a great depth. The result is that only a small amount of the energy of rotation goes toward useful work, and a great deal of it is wasted uselessly. The drilling pipes wear out quickly; they break and require repeated replacement.

4.Kapelyushnikov began to think about how it might become possible to escape from this technological dead end. Eventually he found the way out: he had to construct a reliable, high-performance downhole motor. The problem was solved in 1922: a reduction-geared turbodrill was designed – for the first time in world engineering. On September 26, 1922, the engineer applied to Moscow to patent his invention.

The first test model of Kapelyushnikov's turbodrill weighed around one metric ton. The motor, a single-cycle turbine powered by drilling fluid pumped in through cavities in the drilling pipe, was placed inside a cylindrical housing. The turbine was connected to the bit by a reduction gear used to lower the number of the bit's revolutions.

5. The test of Kapelyushnikov's downhole motor model confirmed its workability. The advantages of the turbodrill were immediately obvious to oil engineers: during drilling, only the bit rotated. The heavy column of pipes did not rotate, and moved along the walls of the well only as it grew deeper. It turned out that it was considerably easier to bore to a great depth with the turbodrill, since there was no friction between the pipes and the walls of the well, and there were far fewer pipe accidents than in standard rotary drilling. It is interesting that as early as October 1923, Kapelyushnikov filed for a patent in Great Britain. His application was approved by the British patent office.

6. The invention of a turbodrill in the Soviet Union soon attracted the attention of the American engineering community. In 1928, the American journal Petroleum requested that Kapelyushnikov send them a description of his invention and invited him to deliver a report on the turbodrill at the World Exhibition of Oil Industry Equipment in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1929.


Text D

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