1. n. 
A large-diameter, relatively low-pressure pipe string set in shallow yet competent formations for several reasons. First, the surface casing protects fresh-water aquifers onshore. Second, the surface casing provides minimal pressure integrity, and thus enables a diverter or perhaps even a blowout preventer (BOP) to be attached to the top of the surface casing string after it is successfully cemented in place. Third, the surface casing provides structural strength so that the remaining casing strings may be suspended at the top and inside of the surface casing.
Synonyms: surface pipe