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Job Duties for a Lease Operator in the Oilfield

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Lease operators, also called pumpers or gaugers, are employees of gas and oil companies that work in the field to monitor equipment and to report the amount the oil extracted from the ground. They must be able to maintain the equipment on the site and make sure it follows environmental rules. They must report spills and prevent shutdowns from equipment failure.

Monitoring Wells

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The primary responsibility of a lease operator is to ensure that the company's wells are operating properly. Wells in oilfields are often located over long distances and in land leased from several people. The lease operator must drive to each well and check that the mechanical components of the well are working and pipes are not blocked or obstructed. Some wells have gas compressors, which make natural gas denser and easier to ship via pipelines. These must be maintained and restarted when they turn off. Problems must be reported to the company that rents the units out. Heat Treaters and Dehydrators, which are devices that separate the gas, oil and water from the well, must be maintained. During cold weather methanol may be added to prevent water from freezing.

Charting Natural Gas

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Many oil fields also produce natural gas, which is a valuable product that is separated from the oil. The lease operator is responsible for the charts that measure the amount of natural gas. This can include analog paper readouts, but is mostly done digitally. Natural gas is often sold to a third party, thus the charts are important for establishing payment to the oil field operator and the mineral rights holder. The lease operator must keep the charting equipment working and study readouts to see if they indicate production issues.

Storage Tanks

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Once oil is collected it is piped to storage tanks. The lease operator must measure the amount of oil with a special tape. The tape measures the current amount of oil in the tank. Chemicals are added to the oil to lighten it up and allow water to separate. The operator also has to measure the amount of water in the oil. The water is separated and drained into a separate tank for disposal.


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Lease operators must extensively document oil production from each well in the field. This information is sent to the company and used to establish production levels and a record for sales. Reports are sent in daily and a monthly report is common.

Emergency Service

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The job of a lease operator does not end here. They must be on call for emergencies such as equipment failure. Many systems have a warning system that alert the lease operator. This can include a problem that occurs late at night or during holidays. The lease operator must be able to cover emergencies or furnish a replacement to do the work for him.


Philip Rodney Moon has been writing since 2004. His work has appeared in Cracked, The Art of Manliness, "The Spartan Weekly" and Spartanedge. Moon has a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunication, information studies and media. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2009.

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