The Oil and Gas Industry is in a constant drive to find new sources of product. The product is crude oil and natural gas found underground all over the world. Obtaining the product from the ground depends upon drilling through the earth’s crust and into pockets or reservoirs where oil and/or natural gas has collected. Finding these areas is difficult as sometimes it can be miles beneath the surface, but with advancements in geology, experience in finding these reservoirs is becoming more commonplace. Once the reservoir has been located, the hardest part of the process is just beginning.
The skyline in many locales is dotted with tall oil derricks standing up across the landscape. Most of these are vertical wells, drilling straight down beneath them into the earth’s crust and into the pools of oil and gas. However, as oil becomes more difficult to find, all the large tracts of crude oil have been discovered forcing oil producers to be more creative in their searches.
Today, many of the locales where oil has been discovered are difficult to access locations. Beneath lakes, under populated areas, and other areas where a simple vertical shaft cannot be drilled down without causing quite a bit of environmental as well as actual, physical damage to existing structures and land.
The introduction of directional drilling has allowed oil well producers to tap into these newly discovered reservoirs drilling at an angle. The process is called Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD). By using directional drilling, multiple wells can be dug from the same location enabling only one drill rig to be used as opposed to multiple units. This is a huge savings as a single oil derrick can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per day.
Additionally, in being able to reach difficult sources for oil and natural gas, HDD can be used to provide an additional channel for capping an oil field blow out preventer. A second hole can be drilled to relieve the pressure that has built up in the well.
The drill bit in a HDD application can be steered so it can be aimed at going around an obstacle or to change direction from being horizontal to going vertical and returning to horizontal in another plane. By injecting water or mud, the one of the walls of the shaft can be weakened and the drill will turn that direction. The technology of today enables a camera to be pushed down the shaft so real time pictures and video can be sent to the surface.
The advances in horizontal drilling have a multitude of uses in other industries. Utilities use it for the installation of electric utility cables and new gas lines. The mining industry uses HDD to extract methane gas from a coal seams and the construction industry for drilling beneath a river to get to the other side as well geothermal engineering uses HDD to drill injection and production holes to release the heat from below.
The ability to drill under existing obstacles, beneath bodies of water, and going under existing roadways are all possible because of the invention of this horizontal style drilling. A less expensive, less invasive, method for getting the natural resources out of the ground without disrupting the land above it. By drilling multiple holes from one starting hole saves the driller money, time, and equipment. This also will allow for a more efficient use of the resources that we have left on this planet.