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Oil Country Tubular Goods: Pipe and tube products used in petroleum industry, such as drill pipe, pipe casings, oil pipes.

Why "Country"? What does it mean here? How did it originate?

I would understand "country" if the term concerned some particular company, proud of its land of origin (say, Texas) and thus using this "X country" construction. But since it refers to piping made all over the globe..

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    It means "region where X is produced or where X is prevalent". Tobacco country. Oil country. Tornado country. Hillbilly country. Horse country.
    – TimR
    May 19, 2016 at 9:47
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    Think of country here as "territory" or "region" not as a political entity. Compare "back-country".
    – TimR
    May 19, 2016 at 10:05
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    `{X} country" is a very common phrase in American English. Watch your step, this is snake country. Don't leave food around, this is bear country.
    – TimR
    May 19, 2016 at 10:14
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    The phrase does not assert any sort of uniqueness. There is more than one place in the world where bears are found. But they are certainly found here, because this is bear country. And do not think of it as a political entity. It does not refer to politics or sovereignty, but to a geographic region.
    – TimR
    May 19, 2016 at 10:17
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    @CowperKettle: I do not understand your lack of understanding here. "Country" means "region". It is similar to land semantically.
    – TimR
    May 19, 2016 at 10:46

1 Answer 1

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It seems likely the item to be asking about is not country but oil country...

"Oil Country" in OCTG could refer/allude to (a) a nation that produces oil; (b) a region called 'oil country', as outlined in the bulk of this answer eg the original Oil Country centered in Pennsylvania; (c) all such oil countries, in the sense of either a or b; (d) perhaps to some original company or market called Oil Country Tubular Goods; (e) anywhere where the oil industry is present, kind of like Boston Nation refers to fans of Boston sports teams no matter where they live; (f) something else.

I've emailed the American Petroleum Institute and asked. It's website says standardization of oil field equipment didn't begin to after World War I.

One definition of country is

A region, territory, or large tract of land distinguishable by features of topography, biology, or culture: hill country; Bible country.

American Heritage Dictionary

Thus, oil country refers to any "region, territory, or large tract of land" characterized by the presence of oil or petroleum (which literally means "rock oil") and the industries, services, goods, and indeed the wealth and even culture that develops from the extraction, collection, transportation and sale of crude oil.

In the USA, and I think in the English-speaking world, the original oil country (once referred to as the oil country because it was so specific & famous a region1) was that portion of northern and western Pennsylvania, etc, including the Oil Creek Valley (where once American Indians would collect surface oil), which saw the Pennsylvania Oil Boom/Rush after Edwin Drake drilled the first successful well in 1859.

Since then, both in the USA and elsewhere, other oil countries have arisen, including parts of Texas and California. There's one in

Note that some place called oil country can also be called something else country if the same region has more than one defining characteristic: a place could be oil country, hill country, cattle country, beer country, redneck country, Willie Nelson country, etc., all at the same time. Yes, I'm still thinking of Texas.

Also, note that very often, banks, stores, restaurants, parks, zoos, pretty much anything, will call themselves after the characteristic of where they are located. So you can find Oil Country Federal Credit Reserve in Pennsylvania.

Thus, oil country refers first and foremost to a geographic location. Perhaps its usage in Oil Country Tubular Goods is allusion to one of these physical regions, maybe to all of them.

Somehow, and I don't know when, where, and why, the term Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) came to be applied to certain goods used anywhere and everywhere in the petroleum industry.

The purported 1859 usage seems specious, some kind of scanning error. The language is not that of the mid-19th century and there is no other usage recorded in Google Books of the term until the early 1970s.


1 See, for example, "The Oil Country and Its People" in Magazine of Western History, 1885.

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    Good answer, Alan! OCTG is an industry standard term. For instance, "Oil country tubular goods (OCTG) is a family of seamless rolled products consisting of drill pipe, casing and tubing subjected to loading conditions according to their specific application." This is from the International Molybdenum Association. If you Google OCTG or Oil Country Tubular Goods you will find numerous references to it. It's not necessarily mysterious; it's just what they call it in the oil industry. May 19, 2016 at 13:59
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    Yes, @MarkHubbard but why? That is a mystery to me. There's no industry standard Cattle Country Beef Products that refers to some national or international standard. May 19, 2016 at 14:07
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    I agree with most of the answer except the mentioning that the 1859 usage seems to be some kind of error. It doesn't look like an error to me. May 19, 2016 at 14:10
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    Country in OCTG could refer to an oil producing nation; I've updated my answer. May 19, 2016 at 16:55
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    My maternal grandfather was an oilman in Oklahoma. The State Capitol has an oil well on its front lawn. From Wikipedia: "The state capitol complex is famous for its oil wells and remains the only state capitol grounds in the United States with active oil rigs. The capitol building is directly atop the Oklahoma City Oil Field." Like Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Alaska, parts of Canada and many others, Oklahoma is definitely oil country. :-) BTW, the 1885 article by A. R. Baker in the Magazine of Western History is informative and a wonderful slice of 19th Century Americana. Good find. May 19, 2016 at 18:02

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