Horizontal drilling

Directional drilling can reduce oil and gas wells’ surface impacts while also improving production.

Also called horizontal drilling or deviated drilling, directional drilling involves deliberately shifting a well’s path from the vertical. Wells can be deviated until they are running horizontally.

Reasons for directional drilling include:

  • To avoid using a surface site that is operationally difficult or environmentally sensitive
  • Drilling an offshore well from an onshore site
  • Reducing costs or surface impact by drilling several wells in different directions from the one surface location
  • Enhancing oil and gas production by drilling in a way that exposes more of the reservoir to the wellbore – this is especially important in rocks with low permeability, such as shales.

To steer the well path, rotary steerable equipment is mounted on the drill pipe just behind the drill bit. These systems can be remotely steered from the surface to redirect the drill bit to deviate the well on any desired path.

Directional drilling can be very precise. Wells kilometres deep can be directed to within centimetres of their targets.