What does a Mudlogger do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A mudlogger is an oil and gas industry professional who generates a log noting the conditions surrounding the construction of a well. This member of a drilling team usually has geology training and industry experience, and is a junior member of the crew, working under the supervision of a geologist. This work can be dirty, as well as grueling, and often requires travel to remote locations, with cramped and less than ideal housing conditions.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

As a drill operates, the mudlogger keeps track of drilling speed, any events experienced during drilling, and characteristics like temperature and viscosity of the drilling substrate. Periodically, she examines samples taken from the drill under a microscope, identifying different kinds of geological material. All of this information goes into a log, providing a picture of the geological strata the drill moves through. The mudlogger can compare data with other wells to get an idea of the bigger picture in the area.

This work includes identifying valuable hydrocarbon deposits as the drill encounters them. In addition, the mudlogger must identify dangerous conditions and alert other members of the crew. These include changing characteristics indicating an increased risk of a well blowout, along with signs of explosive or toxic materials. Mudloggers need to be adept at reading information quickly and accurately and making judgment calls. Stopping work is extremely expensive, and drilling should only be halted when a clear emergency is present.

Someone who wants to become a mudlogger usually needs some familiarity with the oil and gas industry or experience in the geology field. Some people have geology degrees, while others may work in this position after doing other kinds of work at drilling sites. Some on-the-job training is available to familiarize people with their duties and the working environment. The mudlogger works with other personnel including the wellsite geologist and the safety officer to follow company procedures, and the law, at all times.

One advantage of mudlogger work can be opportunities to travel. These personnel are necessary anywhere companies are sinking wells, including in foreign countries, and there may be chances to take time away from the drilling site to see the region. Compensation for people working in the oil and gas industry tends to be high because of their unique skillset and the inherent dangers of the work environment. Benefits can include health care and pensions, depending on whether people work for the oil company or subcontract through a service that provides personnel to oil companies.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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