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Mudloggers: The Eyes and Ears in the Oil Field

Oil companies in the Permian basin rely on Mudlogging companies to determine the type of rock they are drilling in and what they are drilling into.
Mudloggers have the power to prove the theories of the geologists.

“You confirm it because you look at the rock, you say yup that's what the geologists said we'd be seeing it in,” said Eleasar Sisneros, who works in Field Quality Control at Suttles Logging.

Oil companies in the Permian basin rely on Mudlogging companies to determine the type of rock they are drilling in and what they are drilling into.

“We're actually looking at what's coming out of the rock,” said Harlan Martin, who has been in Mudlogging since childhood and is now the IT Development at Suttles Logging. “We’re seeing the actual samples.”

Mudlogging companies usually set up a trailer in a drilling site and work at the same time as the hole is being drilled.

“You're drilling down, you're going to hit the formation and that return has to come back up all the way ten thousand feet back up to the surface,” Sisneros said.

That return is usually small pieces of rock. Then, the rocks are washed and examined by the Mudloggers.

“We come in and we actually experiment and we look for fluorescent and cuts,” Sisneros said.

And those tests determine if the rock has any sign of oil.

“Most of the time we know what we're expecting and with a few simple tests we can tell for sure whether its limestone or dolomite,” Martin said.

But on the good days, they can just smell it.

“You see the oil in the water that you're carrying so when you rinse it out you can just smell it,” Sisneros said. “It smells like money.”

All the information is collected and logged by the Mudlogging companies, and for the most part, the information remains private for the client.

If the owner of the information chooses to donate it, the rock samples will go to the Sample Library in Midland.

“A Mudloggers job is not a small job. We have to do a lot of work,” Sisneros said. “We're the eyes and ears of the geologists.”

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