The story was contributed by William Lesso,
Professor Emeritus of the University of Texas.
The LongHorn Petroleum Company has just brought in a
producing oil well. It’s no gusher. In fact, they
need to hook up a ‘horse head’ pumping unit
and run a line to a nearby set of oil storage tanks. Periodically
a tanker truck will come by and take the accumulated crude
oil to the refinery.
Based on past experience, we have listed the following
tasks, which should be done along with estimates for this
particular well of how long each task will take and the
number of persons required for the task.
The first three tasks can be started anytime. At the
wellhead, the ground must be cleared, forms put in and
a concrete mounting slab poured. This should take about
11 hours but might be done in only 9. If there is some
difficulty, it could take as long as 19 hours. Usually
a crew of 4 is assigned.
The pump unit must be ordered. This should take about
A path must be cut through the brush and cactus from
the well to the storage tanks. This should take 30 hours.
It may only require 20 hours if the brush is not too thick,
but it could take as long as 40. A crew of six will be
assigned to this task.
Once the concrete slab is poured, it must cure for 24
hours, no more, no less.
After the order is placed, the pumping unit will be delivered
to the well site by the supply company in 9 hours. The
time will be no more than that, but the unit may arrive
in only 3 hours.
After the path is cleared, a crew of six will dig a trench,
put in a flow line and cover it. This usually takes at
least 10 hours. It could be as long as 14, but the task
should be done in 11.
At the same time, three persons will run an electric
line along the path. They estimate a likely time of 10
hours, but it may be as long as 12 and as short as 8.
Once the pumping unit has been delivered and the cement
slab has cured, it will take a crew of three persons 5
hours to mount the unit but it might be finished in only
4. If things don’t work out well, it could take
as long as 12 hours.
With the pump unit in place, two persons will hook up
an electric motor. This will take a minimum of 3 hours
and as much as 5, but mostly likely 4.
At the same time, three persons will run sucker rods
down the well and to the pump. Thus usually takes 8 hours
but might only take half as long. If there are problems,
it could take 18 hours.
When the electric line has been run and the electric
motor is in place, it will be tied in to the electric
supply and tested. One person can accomplish this job
in 1 hour.
When the flow line has been completed and the sucker
rods installed, the well must be tied in and all the valves
‘nippled up.’ It takes two persons an hour
to do this. The time can be no less than an hour, and
it could be 4 hours if there are problems.
After the electric motor is ready and the well has been
tied into the flow line, the final test of the pump unit
is made. This usually takes about 4 hours but could be
done within 1 hour. However, it has been known to take
as much as 10 hours if many adjustments need to be made.
A crew of two does this job.
At the same time, one person goes around and makes sure
all the values are open. This could take only a few minutes.
More likely it could take an hour, but never more that
With these tasks completed, the unit is ready to pump