Hydraulic fracturing technology is no longer new, and better ways were needed to expand pipeline construction for energy. Reaching more oil in shale formations without disturbing land on the surface is a goal that was finally achieved through horizontal drilling also known as directional boring. Companies are using state-of-the-art hydraulic technology to drill down thousands of feet before drilling outward horizontally to the middle of the Bakken formation. Once the drill bit and steel pipe have reached the middle, the driller will expand them out by two additional miles through the target zone so oil producers can pull resources from thousands of feet of a single wellbore.
Because horizontal drilling and multi-well pads allow for a higher recovery of oil from a single pad than vertical drilling, it leaves a smaller carbon footprint and lets more surface area remain for habitat, developmental and agricultural uses. However, directional drilling for energy production isn’t without its troubles. Because horizontal drilling has the potential ability to extract oil from neighboring parcels, it was the subject of international tensions in 1990 when Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing its oil. So far, these tensions haven’t reached pipeline construction for energy in the United States.
Vertical drilling used to allow for only one well per pad placed every 40 acres or so and impacting up to 12 percent of the surface area. Horizontal drilling allows a single well pad to hold multiple wells instead, letting pads share equipment and access roads, reducing the amount of needed land. Well pads are most often placed along planned energy corridors. These existing section lines and roadways are located at one end of the spacing units, leaving four square miles between corridors and allowing for major well-site traffic to reduce its impact by confining itself to one road. The four miles in between are left undisturbed and can be used for human or grazing animal needs.
The benefits of directional drilling for energy production are many. As many as 28 wells can be confined to a single well pad, letting producers pull more oil using fewer wells and less surface area. States that use horizontal drilling can pull hundreds of thousands more barrels per day with a quarter number of wells than states that use standard well pads. Because the multi-well pads expand horizontally, the impact remains underground, leaving land to be developed in other ways. As technology develops, the effects will only grow more pronounced, recovering more oil from existing pads without destroying excess surface area.
Advanced Line Systems specializes in directional boring for utility, pipe, and conduit placement for many different companies spanning Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. We love to share other advanced uses of drilling for energy production.