PRESENTING: The Government's Awesome Guide To Energy Industry Slang

eia kids

Photo: EIA

The world of federal government websites is pretty wonderful, especially when it comes to their “kids” sections.There’s Homeland Security’s’s Ready Kids Activity Book featuring Hector the homeland security hummingbird.

There’s also the IRS’ student simulation site, which features a section guided by “Rita A. Bentley, a 17-year-old high school student” on “Using Form 1099-INT to Complete Schedule C-EZ, Schedule SE, and Form 1040.”

Today, we want to highlight the Energy Information Agency’s guide to energy industry slang.

There’s a lot of potentially misleading lingo out there, so the EIA has stepped up to provide an illustrated and informative guide to sort everything out. Here’s a sample of the language.  

Cat Cracker

A catalytic cracker, or 'cat cracker,' is where the basic gasoline-making process takes place in a refinery. The cat cracker uses high temperatures, low pressure, and a catalyst to create a chemical reaction that breaks oil into smaller gasoline molecules. With a cat cracker, more of each barrel of oil can be turned into gasoline.

Source: EIA


A 'doghouse' is a small house located on the floor of an oil or gas rig that is usually used as an office or storage area.

Source: EIA


'Coke' is a biproduct of processed coal. Used to make steel. Another type of coke, 'petroleum coke,' is a refined product often burned to generate electricity.

Source: EIA

Yellow Cake

'Yellowcake' is another name for uranium oxide, named for its colour and texture. After uranium is mined and separated from ore, it is made into 'yellowcake' and shipped to a conversion plant for more processing. Uranium must first be converted into a gaseous form and then go through a long process of 'enrichment' before it can be used by a nuclear power plant.

Source: EIA


The term 'royalty' refers to the ownership rights of a mineral property (oil, gas, or coal). The owner is entitled to a share of the money made from oil, gas or coal production on the property.

Source: EIA


A 'pig' is a scraping tool that is sent through a pipeline to clean it out. 'Smart pigs' have sensors that can detect cracks or corrosion in the pipeline, helping to prevent leaks.

Source: EIA

Dead Man

A 'dead man' is a buried anchor attached to a wire rope, or 'guy line,' that is used to keep a derrick standing upright.

Source: EIA


A 'roughneck' is a nickname for an oil rig worker.

Source: EIA

For more on the energy industry explanations...

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