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Drill Baby Drill: A Petroleum Specialization Guide for "SimCity 2013"

Ben has been a geek all of his life, so his expertise tends to fall into gaming and technology.


If you've got liquid gold sitting under your city you’ve got a tremendous resource for making a lot of money right from the start. And if you’re going all out you're going to need all that money because it’s a very dirty job. You'll need to pay for the right infrastructure set up so that you can do the job properly and keep your Sims from getting too sick to do their jobs. Fortunately raising the land value with parks and things your Sims will like isn't part of the job as this specialization will require a lot of low wealth Sims to do your bidding.

Make Sure You've Got Your Hard Hat

Before you even start your city you need to know where your oil deposits are. Open up your oil deposits map and identify exactly where your pipelines are going to be laid out. Unlike the mining specialization, you don’t want the main building to specifically be in the middle of your deposit, but it needs to be positioned well. You don’t need to build a whole lot of them when you can prepare with a single building and a good service road. One trick I’ve used is to set up the roads exactly how I want them first. Roads in SimCity 2013 don’t need to be connected to the highway in order to be laid down, and the same is true with the service roads. This way you’re bending your non-essential roads around to meet up with your key buildings, and not the other way around.


Check out my SimCity 2013 Traffic Guide to help prevent traffic issues from happening in the first place.

The road straight through this Oi Field helps me get to every drop of oil.

The road straight through this Oi Field helps me get to every drop of oil.


The Freight Rail Terminal and Cargo Ship Dock options for the Trade Port are not physically connected to it. It may look a little odd, but as long as your rail or ocean connection is close enough to the Trade Port that you can plop one of these modules down, goods will automatically appear in your storage lots even though there's no visible connection between the modules.

Plan Your Pipeline

To those who have read my Metals guide, this is going to sound quite familiar given the strategies for moving oil is quite the same. With your starting roads all set you need to plan how you’re going to get product in and out of your city. While trucks will do this job most of the time, one of the most painful things that can happen is having a sudden traffic jam, and your income is suddenly cut in half because of it.

This means you need to set up a Trade Port as an alternate method of transport for your goods. You pretty much have two options, moving things by rail, or by sea. Each of these options has its benefits. If you use a boat you can transport vast amounts of cargo in a single trip. The downside is that it’s a single cargo, and so you can constantly feel that you’re in a boom or bust cycle. Either you’re drowning in what you need, or you’re staring at an empty lot. Trains will never bring you as much as you might like, but they are on a consistent schedule. Each cargo train consists of as many cars as you have lots, with each car determined by the type of lot that you have. You’re not restricted to one or the other, and can have both trains and boats arriving at the same time, giving you a lot more breathing room. Simply extend your Heavy Rail from its current location to a spot near the ocean and you can connect both. It is not worth it to go for this early however, so even if you can afford it, leave it turned off and stick with Trade Depots. You’ll need them till you can get access to the petroleum lots at the Trade Port, and they’re even useful afterwards.


Open up the Drilling Specialization window under City Specialization and click the 'Guide Me' button. Not only will the game offer suggestions for what you should do next on the fly, it will also give you reward money for performing certain tasks that you were going to do anyway.

It's Time to Start Sucking up That Liquid Gold

Now that you've done all the planning and have your oil fields set up, it's time to actually start drilling. As mentioned before, you need to lay your oil wells on the spots that will not only get them on the resource you want, but allows the optimal placement of your pumpjacks.

Each of the buildings in SimCity 2013 have several things in common like an identifier sign and delivery garage. The difference with an oil well is that you need to set up your Pumpjacks along a special service road. This service road is completely free, so don't be afraid to experiment and get the best coverage. You can lay out a maximum of ten Pumpjacks.

The Oil Refinery allows you to access Fuel and Plastic which is much more profitable.

The Oil Refinery allows you to access Fuel and Plastic which is much more profitable.


If your end goal is to send a lot of petroleum products to a great work you don't need to change your exporting strategy. Setting your local Trade Port to use the fuel/plastic locally will send all of the Fuel and Plastic your project needs out to it, but you can set the trade port to Export your petroleum and the Great Work will still get what it needs. It will take a little bit longer, but it won't break the bank.

Plastics and Gas for Everyone

After you've sold a significant amount of crude oil you’ll get access to the Petroleum HQ and your first upgrade. Your first expansion should always be the Refining division as it will give you access to the Oil Refinery, which is your gateway to fuel and plastic sales and much higher sales. This expansion costs 400K, not including the costs of the buildings themselves. Make sure you've built up a lot more then what you need in case there are traffic problems.

The Oil Refinery comes with one Fuel Distillation unit attached by default, allowing you to create fuel immediately. You can expand with Plastic Polymerizer modules as you keep growing allowing you to diversify and make some solid cash in the global market.

The fully constructed Petroleum HQ

The fully constructed Petroleum HQ

Investing in Your Petroleum HQ

At this point, you’re making a ton of cash, but there’s still more that you can do. Now that you’ve got three types of petroleum products that you can sell, you need to start increasing your volume. Although the Petroleum HQ doesn’t have as many levels as the Metals HQ, the sales volume was once the same, a very tough two million in a day. It's luckily been lowered to a more reasonable 800K per day. You can do this the right way, or the cheap way. The right way is building up your oil sales over time. The cheap way is to build several Trade Depots and store a bunch of your material there. Wait till it’s all full, and sell everything at once.

Once you have access to the Trade Port lots, you can get rid of most of your Trade Depots, or at least shut them down. Your Trade Port will ship out everything you need in its own trucks, and either boat or rail, making sure that traffic will never completely squeeze your wallet.

Petroleum HQ Upgrades

Each upgrade past the first allows you to add one additional division.

LevelNameDaily Requirement


Petroleum HQ

Extract 9600 barrels of crude in a day


Petroleum, Co.

Earn 160K in Petroleum daily profit


Petroleum, Inc

Earn 800K in Petroleum daily profit

Don't let your city go down in flames.  Prepare for the worst

Don't let your city go down in flames. Prepare for the worst

Watch Out, Oil Burns Really Well

It can be easy to laser focus on the money and traffic aspect of getting into the oil game, but you shouldn't ignore the downside of this specialization. Not only are you dealing with pollution, but your work areas are dangerous places and your Sims will get injured more often. You should not only plant a Hospital in the area that you’re working with petroleum, but you should add an Emergency and Surgical center as well to cope with the increased need.

The other big danger of this specialization are Hazmat Fires. A Hazmat fire is a special kind of chemical fire that your normal fire trucks can’t handle and without the Hazmat Garage at a Large Fire Station you’re going to find your industry buildings regularly burning to the ground. If that weren't bad enough, the toxic fumes from these fires spread the suffering around. Simply adding a petroleum special building in your city will raise the risk of Hazmat Fires at all of your other Industrial buildings in the city.

You can ship a drastic amount of Fuel and Plastic with a ship.

You can ship a drastic amount of Fuel and Plastic with a ship.

Making It Rain

Now that you've got your entire infrastructure in place and your selling petroleum on the open market, you'll find that while it’s dirty, it’s also sitting on a pile of cash. Developing the Drilling specialty in SimCity 2013 is a great way to set up a second city in your region allowing you to send large amounts of cash for infrastructure, not to mention resources to your second city. You may not want to live in your mining town, but it will be a solid footing for setting yourself up for greatness.

© 2014 Ben Martin