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How to Drill for Oil in Your Backyard

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How would you like to make an extra $10,000 every month? While it may seem far-fetched, backyard oil drilling is becoming an increasingly manageable proposition, drawing in profits for property-owners from all walks of life. All it takes is the right circumstances, the right research and the right process to become a miniature oil baron yourself.

Check your surroundings. The fact is, no one is going to discover a previously unknown font of oil. Instead, your goal should be to piggyback on what is already being exploited. If you know there is drilling going on in your area, then chances are good that your land could prove equally fruitful. One or two small "dipper" rigs are a particularly potent indicator, since it would suggest that the oil is shallow enough that a one-man operation can develop it. Some commercial wells are at a depth of 15,000 feet, far too deep to drill in your backyard. Look for large, well-contained construction projects or even abandoned wells as indicators of likely oil deposits.

Research public and governmental sources to find information on other wells. Many states have regulatory policies that require drillers to report developed wells. Often this information is a matter of public record and can be made available through your state Department of Conservation.

Drill, novice oil baron, drill. Only conduct drilling once you are reasonably certain that your land contains oil. Exploratory drilling would prove prohibitively costly. Once you know there's oil in "them there hills," get a contract driller to dig to the oil pocket. While it is possible to purchase a drill yourself (for around half a million dollars), the ability to complete the job requires a vast wealth of knowledge, experience and safety training. Typical drilling companies will charge between $50 and $200 per foot. You can expect your final well to be between 2,000 and 5,000 feet.

Start pumping. Once again, the prohibitive cost means it is better to contract the oil pumping. This can likely be done through the drilling services company that dug the hole, although drilling can also be flat-rate. Cutting a deal with a drilling company can be stressful, but they're not as cutthroat as portrayed in "There Will Be Blood."

Set up oil storage. One of the most labor-intensive elements once your oil business is pumping out the black gold is simply storing the stuff. Typical oil barrels hold 42 gallons. Storage of oil is often the most regulated step, so check local regulations. You could expect to need, at a minimum, a chain-link fence fully enclosing your barrels and warning signs, particularly of the "No Smoking" variety.

Ship it away. Typical oil-delivery companies will charge approximately $20 per barrel, meaning that simply shipping your oil can be a significant chunk of your profits. Oil-delivery trucks typically expect to perform pick-ups once a week.


About the Author

Based in Seattle, Louie Doverspike has been a professional writer since 2004. His work has appeared in various publications, including "AntiqueWeek" magazine, the "Prague Post" and "Seattle Represent!" Doverspike holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hamilton College.