Technological advancements have affected every industry, and the oil and gas sector is no exception. Directional drilling is a game-changer for the oil and gas industry.
Drilling techniques and technologies have significantly advanced in the past few decades. Conventional drilling for oil and gas would require the drill bit, drill string, pipe, and casing to dig into the Earth’s crust in a straight line.
Directional drilling is an advanced drilling method where the drill doesn’t descend vertically in a straight line. It can also be used in a vertical well because it’s necessary to avoid a geological formation or a previously stuck pipe. Such instances necessitate using sidetracking techniques.
While conventional drilling occurs in straight lines, directional drilling involves turning the drill once it’s inside the Earth’s surface. Most people think directional drilling involves making a 180-degree turn, but that’s not necessarily the case. Most directional drilling operations today consist of several well-planned directional changes along the wellbore.
Directional drilling isn’t a new concept. It has been around for almost 100 years. However, it has significantly advanced since then. Technological advances have allowed new angles, turns, and underground distances to be used, improving the drilling process.
Directional drilling consists of several techniques. These include multilateral, horizontal, and extended-reach drilling. These are enhanced oil recovery methods that increase a downhole’s yield dramatically. Modern-day drillers can drill for more than ten kilometers using these techniques.
Directional drilling has numerous benefits. For starters, drillers can control where the drilling takes place. They can also control the location of any line being drilled. In addition, directional drilling allows drillers to minimize disturbance on the surface, reducing the ecological impact. It also enables drillers to avoid geological formations and pockets.
Directional drilling moves can be shallow, meaning drilling is distributed, and more resources are extracted. Let’s assume you’re drilling in an onshore oil field. Directional drilling can help you explore more of the oil field, meaning you can discover more resources. It’ll also help you avoid hard rock formations that may damage drilling equipment, preventing downtimes.
Utility installation is also a factor with directional drilling. This technique grants more control to drillers, enabling them to avoid utilities buried nearby. It’s also important to note that this technique is more accurate, precise, and less invasive than conventional drilling methods, enabling you to perform operations more efficiently.
Here is the equipment used in directional drilling:
Specialized drillbits improve performance and reduce failure.
Operators will often place downhole steerable mud motors near the drill bit. They usually have a bend. Typically, the drill string will stop rotating once it reaches the correct depth. Drilling fluid will be pumped through the mud motor to ensure the drill bit turns because of the fluid. The pressure pushes the drill bit into a different angle, causing it to bite into the formation from a different angle to the central well trajectory. The drill string starts drilling again once sensors verify the drill bit is pointed in the correct direction.
Mud motors are essential for directional drilling, meaning the drill pipe often slides forward when the drill is motionless. Rotary steerable systems are crucial because they can drill and steer simultaneously. It allows you to access previously inaccessible formations.
It’s not uncommon to bend configurations to ensure they can make turns through physical manipulation. Bottom-hole assembly is crucial for bending configurations.
Most operators will fit multi-shot cameras inside the drill string. These allow them to take pictures on a time-lapse setting, which are sent back to the surface.
Custom whipstocks work with downhole motors. They’re beneficial because you don’t have to remove them between drilling. They allow you to spend more time drilling and less time removing the drill bit and conventional whipstock.
Networked pipes are useful because they transmit data back to the surface.
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