Energy & Infrastructure

“Christmas trees” found year-round on gas wells

Staff Reports

While some of us are spending this week packing away our Christmas trees, in our industry “Christmas trees” found year-round on gas wells.

“Christmas trees” aren’t just for the holidays in the natural gas industry. Nicknamed because of their subtle resemblance to the holiday decoration, a “Christmas tree” is a complex assembly of valves, spools and fittings, primarily used to control the flow of gas from a producing well. Instruments on the tree can also be used to detect and measure sand, corrosion, temperature, erosion and pressure.

Sometimes the terms “Christmas tree” and “wellhead” are used interchangeably; however, a wellhead and a Christmas tree are separate pieces of equipment. A wellhead must be present for a Christmas tree to operate and is used without a Christmas tree during drilling operations. Gas wells that require pumps (pump jacks, nodding donkeys, etc.) often don’t need a tree because there’s no need to contain pressure on the well.