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Section 1: Horizontal Drilling Technology (How and Why)

This section includes the summary of the following book:

Azar, J.J. and Samuel, G.R. (2007) Drilling engineering. Tusla, Okla: PenWell. pp 254-264.

Azar and Samuel (2007) describe horizontal drilling as a process of using a steerable drill bit to follow a horizontal path oriented approximately 90o vertical through the reservoir rock. For a horizontal well drilling to be accomplished, factors such as effective planning, proper program implementation, real-time monitoring of field data and effective team work must be considered. Horizontal well drilling enhances economic recovery of hydrocarbon reserves from fields that are not achievable. This has provided a great number of opportunities for the oil and gas industry. Secondly, horizontal drilling increases primary and secondary production and also increases the ultimate recovery of hydrocarbons in place. Thirdly, horizontal drilling reduces the number of wells to develop in an entire field. Finally, horizontal drilling reduces footsteps in the area therefore; it has a positive impact on the environment. To drill a horizontal well successfully, major elements such as downward force on drill bit, drill bit rotation, and fluid circulation are considered. Horizontal drilling starts from the surface, the steerable drill bit drills the hole vertically and at a premeasured depth known as the kick off depth (KOD) the drill bit deviates horizontally to an angle of 90o. The most common methods used to drill horizontally are the long-radius method and medium-radius method. Before selecting a method, the following should be taken into consideration; cost, reservoir rock characteristics, company objectives, conditions of reentry holes, completion methods, amount of reach and well spacing. Reservoirs that may be suitable for horizontal drilling are; tight reservoirs, naturally vertically fractured reservoirs, economically inaccessible reservoirs, heavy oil reservoirs, thin reservoirs and reservoirs that may have potential water/gas-coning complications. Horizontal drilling has a significant increase in production. There are various reservoirs that are suitable for horizontal drilling however, there must be a cost comparison between vertical drilling and horizontal drilling based on the return of investment.