The Science of Directional Drilling

Directional drilling is a technique used in the oil and gas industry to control or correct a wellbore along a predetermined trajectory to one or more underground targets or locations at given horizontal displacements (HD) and true vertical depths (TVD) from the point of origin. The science of directional drilling has evolved since 1900, and it has become an integral part of the oil and gas industry since the 1920s.

The central advantage of drilling directionally is that significantly more of the production formation is exposed to the well, compared to vertical wells. This technique allows drilling to contact larger quantities of oil and gas reserves, thereby minimizing associated drilling costs as well as environmental impact.

Operators must maintain wellbore verticality, construct curves (inclination builds and/or drops), and maintain tangents all in a specific direction. Applications include drilling to difficult-to-access locations and at river crossings as well as drilling relief wells, sidetracking, drilling multiple wells from one surface location or main wellbore (multilaterals), and drilling with wellbores having inclinations up to and exceeding 90°. High-inclination wells (80°+) are considered horizontal and have significantly augmented production due to their increased reservoir exposure as compared to their low-angle counterparts. Extended-reach (ER) wells push the horizontal limits of directional drilling even further.

Directional drilling techniques were designed to improve the mechanics of deviated wells so that multiple boreholes could be drilled from one location and at various angles. These techniques have been integral parts of the oil and gas industry since the 1920s. Historically, engineers have used established methods based on years of prior experience to advance the science toward modern techniques.

In conclusion, directional drilling is a science that has been developed over the years to improve the efficiency of drilling in the oil and gas industry. It has become an integral part of the industry since the 1920s and has evolved significantly since then. The technique has allowed drilling to contact larger quantities of oil and gas reserves, thereby minimizing associated drilling costs as well as environmental impact

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