Drilling Techniques for Oil and Gas Wells
Contrary to popular belief, the oil and gas exploration industry holds environmental protection at the forefront of development. This has been managed in several ways, but the most obvious is the evolution in drilling techniques. From the beginning, innovative drilling techniques have sought to decrease noise pollution, avoid sensitive natural areas, reduce carbon footprints both below and above ground, and produce less waste by accessing resources through individual shrinking drill holes.
Some more advanced companies like Cunningham Energy use newer, state-of-the-art drilling techniques such as horizontal drilling to extract more natural resources without greatly impacting the environment. Horizontal drilling begins with a regular vertical hole, but when the drill reaches the reservoir rock, it turns horizontally and continues drilling. In this new position, the drill can travel for approximately one mile. This allows the well to be exposed to more surface area in order to efficiently extract oil and gas. That being said, horizontal drilling leaves the environment unharmed by reducing the number of well sites that are required to extract from specific areas.
Multilateral drilling entails accessing oil and gas contained in several different layers. This allows the drilling operation to branch into these layers for a single well. Multilateral drilling is used to maximize the number of wells that can be drilled from small installations. Therefore, this method is able to minimize the number of drill sites and, in turn, lessen the negative impact on the environment. The same is true for extended reach and complex path drilling.
Extended Reach Drilling
Extended reach drilling is as the name implies. This drilling operation accesses natural resources that are much farther than those retrieved with regular drilling. As a result, resources can be taken from sensitive locations and areas that cannot be accessed with other drilling methods. In fact, some wells can extend up to five miles from the main drilling point. By keeping a well in a reservoir for a longer distance, it helps to increase its productivity and drainage capabilities. In offshore operations, extended reach drilling can access points far away from the drilling platform.
Complex Path Drilling
Complex path drilling can manipulate several routes to access different accumulations in different areas from a single drill site. It also allows the wells to access more oil and gas, thereby, reducing the need for continuous drilling and unnecessary exploration. This technique follows the same ethos of minimizing environmental impact.