Horizontal drilling starts with a vertical well that turns horizontal within the reservoir rock in order to expose more open hole to the oil. These horizontal "legs" can be over a mile long; the longer the exposure length, the more oil and natural gas is drained and the faster it can flow. More oil and natural gas can be produced with fewer wells and less surface disturbance. However, the technology only can be employed in certain locations.
Sometimes oil and natural gas reserves are located in separate layers underground. Multilateral drilling allows producers to branch out from the main well to tap reserves at different depths. This dramatically increases production from a single well and reduces the number of wells drilled on the surface.
Extended Reach Drilling
Extended Reach Drilling allows producers to reach deposits that are great distances away from the drilling rig. This can help producers tap oil and natural gas deposits under surface areas where a vertical well cannot be drilled, such as under developed or environmentally sensitive areas. Wells can now reach out over 5 miles from the surface location. Offshore, the use of extended reach drilling allows producers to reach accumulations far from offshore platforms, minimizing the number of platforms needed to produce all the oil and gas. Onshore, dozens of wells can be drilled from a single location, reducing surface impacts.
Complex Path Drilling
Complex Path Drilling creates well paths with have multiple twists and turns to try to hit multiple accumulations from a single well location. Using this technology can be more cost effective and produce less waste and surface impacts than drilling multiple wells.