Why are oil and gas trees called Christmas trees?

‘Christmas’ or ‘XMAS’ trees are vital pieces of equipment for oil and gas projects. They are used not only for extraction but also for water injection or disposal and gas injection.

Since the 1950s, these subsea trees have been topping underwater wellheads to control oil and gas flow to the surface. As well as controlling production, trees are also used as a hub for testing, servicing, regulating and choking an oil or gas stream.

They can be used both on the surface or subsea in oil and gas operations.  


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Where did the analogy come from?

Subsea and surface trees are an assembly of valves stacked on top of each other, with various spools, pressure gauges and chokes around the valves to control production and flow.

The various pieces of equipment decorated around the arrangement of valves gave rise to trees being compared to Christmas trees. No tinsel or baubles, just lots of useful controls to embellish a group of valves (and perhaps a bit of a disappointment for anyone expecting a star at the top).

Oil and gas trees are stars in their own right though, as they control and troubleshoot any issues while oil and gas are being extracted. Without these trees and associated controls, oil and gas extraction wouldn’t be as well managed and safe as it is today.  



Christmas Tree Facts ?

  • The first subsea tree was installed in 1961
  • Trees can be both horizontal and vertical.
  • They can be used in both shallow and deep-water operations.
  • Tree designs would be dependent on water depth, temperatures, pressure, and expected flow.
  • The deepest subsea trees have been installed in Brazil and in the US Gulf of Mexico, in waters measuring up to 9,500 feet deep.
  • Trees are tested to withstand the pressures of water that is 10,000 feet deep.



We hope you’ve found this article helpful. To find out more about the AQUASIGN fixing recommendations for trees both onshore and offshore please please contact our team.  Alternatively, why not subscribe to our Knowledge Hub for instant access to our technical area and download library.


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