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The Goat

Updated: Jul 23, 2018

I had an idea today, which happens sometimes. You might remember the post here about frac balls a little while back. It was pretty well received by many people, including my mom, who saw it as well written and informative. So I wanted to do something like that again, where I use a simple product as a starting point, then try my best to explain its important role in the oil and gas industry using the hard work of people who know way more about it than I do. Of course, the frac balls were featured simply because they existed on the shelves next to my desk. That's not going to be an option too many times - while there are a couple other things on those shelves, they're not necessarily anything that would make a great blog post.

I think that full line of Nerf products... wait, am I allowed to say "Nerf?" I think that full line of foam-based ball-like items has potential. And who doesn't love a good coil? Maybe I'll get to them eventually, but for now, I wanted to learn about something else.

On one of my first days here, my boss asked if I knew what a goat head is. I do of course.

Not what he meant, unfortunately. A co-worker standing nearby also didn't have the acceptable answer, so I felt less bad about that. It turns out that it's a product that looks something like this, according to our catalog.

Okay, great. It's blue, which is my favorite color. More importantly, also the company color. Good start. What else?

A flow cross installed on top of a frac tree where treating iron is connected and treatment fluid enters the frac tree.

A definition where you have to look up four other definitions to even begin to understand. Fantastic. "Flow cross" seems like a pretty fundamental one, like the category of thing that it is, so let's go there.

Pressure-containing equipment consisting of four or more flanged or studded connections used to control and direct fluid flow. A flow cross is typically a component of Christmas trees, where it connects the master valve, wing valves, and swab valve.

Okay good, that helps a little. I see five flanged or studded connections on the picture, so I guess I'm in the right place. And we know it connects a bunch of valves together. One more definition might get us a decent chunk of the way there, so let's try "frac tree," since that's sort of the goat head's place in the bigger picture.

A Christmas tree installed specifically for the fracturing process. A frac tree typically consists of upper and lower master valves, flow cross, wing valves, goat head, and swab valve. Frac trees generally have larger bores and higher pressure ratings than production trees to accommodate the high flow rates and pressures necessary for hydraulic fracturing.

I like that "Christmas tree" keeps popping up. Apparently there are different types of them, and I think this is the wrong type (maybe the aforementioned "production tree," since I don't see a goat head anywhere), but here's some fun from Google, which also doubles as a handy explanation for the name.

Okay, let's find a picture specifically of a frac tree.

There we see our hero in action, sitting majestically on top of a complicated network of valves, and taking in all of the higher-pressure fluids (suck it, production tree) required as part of the fracking process and helping get it where it needs to go (or "control and direct flow," if you prefer the wording from our dictionary definition above). I never did figure out why the name "goat head" is a thing, although I suppose the right viewing angle and an active imagination can get you pretty close.

I should point out that if you're in need of a goat head, or any other wellhead-related parts, you should give us a call at (330) 264-1153, or email us at Don't worry, I'm not in charge of explaining the features and benefits of our products to you, we have people who are really smart about this stuff for that.

Before I leave, I did want to drop one more link on you, if you're interested in learning a bit more about Christmas trees in non-technical language. I found it useful, and there has to be someone else out there who is also new to all of this:

It's apparently an except from a whole book of oil and gas stuff for dummies, which seems like a solid read. It costs $102 and I'm free though, so choose wisely.

Yours in learning,

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