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What Is Production Tubing?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Production tubing is tubing that is used in a well — usually an oil well — to protect the well’s walls from being damaged. While there are many sizes of production tubing, based on the user's needs, there is a common size range. There also are many different types of tubing, based on what the user is pumping and the consistency of the fluid, and a user should choose tubing for the correct fluid. One problem with using this tubing is that it can kick when being tested, which can have severe consequences.

When oil or any other fluid is being stored or mined from a well, production tubing normally is used so the fluid itself does not come in contact with the well walls. The fluid is capable of causing massive deterioration and other problems if it touches the walls, and it usually is harder and more costly to fix the walls than it is to just replace the tubing. The tubing also is optimized for use with a particular fluid, so — assuming the correct type of tubing is used — the chances of deteriorating tend to decrease.

Many different sizes of production tubing are available, based on what users commonly need, and more than one tube can be used at once. This tubing usually is from 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) in circumference, though larger and smaller sizes also can be purchased. The tubing usually has expandable materials that allow the tubing to get slightly larger during use.

Oil, water and the other fluids commonly pumped through production tubing come in different consistencies and thicknesses based on the other materials included in the fluid. To accommodate these differences, there are many types of tubing made, and it usually is best for the user to select tubing based on the fluid with which he is working. For example, using thick tubing meant for a heavy fluid may be too rigid for a thinner fluid.

During use, production tubing normally has to be tested periodically to ensure the tubing still is working well. If the tubing is swabbed and it kicks — or moves violently and suddenly — from the released pressure, then this can cause a big problem. Kicking can cause damage to the well and may send a pressurized blast of fluid out of the tube. This can result in injuries or death if people are nearby.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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