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  • Writer's pictureAlexander Code

Oil and Gas Well Symbols for QGIS

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

By Alex Code

We work with oil and gas data frequently. Much of this work is data management but we also get a number of requests for maps. For a while we’ve been dissatisfied with the options out there for oil and gas symbology in the open source arena. If you are an ArcGIS user, you have options such as the various styles described in the Petroleum Symbols in ArcGIS Pro blog article, where they provide style files for both the Shell Standard and Professional Petroleum Data Management (PPDM) Association styles.

However, .stylx files aren’t much use when using QGIS (there are some conversion tools out there but nothing free and easy to use). The most popular symbol set has been available through a download provided by Black Bear Data. However, we wanted to apply Shell color standards and PPDM’s draft symbology matrix (requires PPDM membership to view) which would have taken significant updates.

We opted to use the PPDM symbols as a base for the project since they do a great job of describing the fluid types and well statuses and how that affects symbology. It also closely resembles many of Shell’s symbols.

Download SVG Files

PPDM symbols were available to PPDM members in multiple formats. SVG is not a format provided by PPDM, so we extracted them from Adobe Illustrator and then saved the individual symbols as SVG. (Inkscape is an open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator.) However, just dropping the SVGs into QGIS will result in static symbols which can’t be customized in QGIS to your color and symbol preferences. The plain black and white symbols work fine for simple, light colored backgrounds but quickly get lost if you introduce more varied backgrounds or aerial imagery. We wanted to be able to customize the colors in QGIS. This meant that all of the SVG files needed to be updated to allow the colors and line width to be customized in QGIS (see QGIS documentation for instructions).

We designed the SVGs to match the way PPDM creates them. This did not include creating a specific symbol for every symbol in the PPDM specification. Instead, we focused on creating the building blocks that make up the symbols as this gives you more flexibility in how you implement the symbols.

We separated out what we call “Symbol Modifiers” such as shows and minority composition symbols and “Status Modifiers” such as Injecting and Suspended. When symbol modifiers were included in the base symbol, it provided less flexibility for fill and stroke shading because the SVG’s fill and stroke parameters are per SVG in QGIS. Separating the components gives you the ability to color the modifiers differently from the base symbol if you want.

Oil and gas GIS symbols with Symbol Modifiers Status Modifiers separated out from the base type symbol.

Download the SVG files for QGIS:

Download ZIP • 7KB

How to use Oil and Gas SVGs in QGIS

Once you’ve downloaded the SVG files, you need to get them into QGIS. There are multiple ways to make your SVG files available in QGIS:

  1. Find the QGIS SVG folder and copy them into that directory. The location depends on your installation. For stand-alone QGIS installations (not OSGeo4W installer), the location is “C:\Program Files\QGIS 3.4\apps\qgis-ltr\svg\”. I recommend creating a subdirectory for your oil and gas symbols.

  2. If you’d prefer to store the files in a more accessible location, you can point QGIS at a different directory. This is accomplished by going to Settings>Option>System>SVG Path and adding the directory where you’ll keep the SVG files.

Once you’ve added the symbols, you’ll be able to access them in the symbology menu by selecting “SVG Marker” in the Marker Type field. Scroll down in the SVG groups to find your directory. In the GIF below, I named my directory “ppdm.”

Once you select the desired SVG, you can change the colors of the outlines, fill and symbol size.

Building more complex symbols

If you want to add modifiers, you click the plus button below your marker window, then change the default “Simple Marker” to “SVG marker” and repeat the process with your modifier. For example, if you want to create a Gas & Condensate Marker, you would add the quarter circle modifier. Then you would need to adjust the modifier to line up correctly. This includes changing the rotation, width/height and offset settings.

To add a status symbol, you can add yet another layer the same way.

Now you can see four shut-in condensate wells.

Aerial image with four condensate wells and their corresponding wellbores marked in red and gray symbols.

NOTE: We've updated this article to include updated links to PPDM resources. Those resources now require PPDM membership to access. However, our SVG symbols are still free for download.

If you have any questions or feedback on the SVGs, please let us know at


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