Directional drilling for oil describes a method in which the drill can be steered in various directions to prevent contact with obstacles like pipes and solid formations and then goes back to its original trek afterward. Often this is referred to as ‘HDD drilling’ or Horizontal Directional Drilling. When the oil is reached, the engineers and geologists often refer to the pools of underground pools as ‘hydrocarbon or oil reservoirs’ to make it easier for the average person to understand.
In the old days, the oil industry primarily used conventional vertical drilling for oil, which means the drill went straight down and didn’t deter. Today, however, it’s likely that with each drilling endeavor, teams will need to plan and carry out changes to their trajectories. This is no easy task, but the technology of the engineering world has made it possible to steer the drill in amazing angles and sharp turns at unbelievable distances.
Under the umbrella term of ‘directional-drilling’, there are ERD (extended reach drilling) and EOR (enhanced oil recovery) which can produce a better end result. The drill can be made to go down to depths in excess of 6.2 miles while going in any direction needed.
Several holes can be created from one oil rig which lessens the impact on the environment around it. Because of the drill’s ability to change direction, there can be several oil deposits harvested from one multi-directional rig, versus several vertical ones which save the industry a ton of money. Oil rigs in any form are expensive and cost upwards of several hundred thousand dollars per day.
The specialists who come together and draw plans for oil drilling are CAD experts, Exploration Engineers, and Seismic Geologists. As smart as these experts are, finding exactly where the most abundant areas of oil remain quite difficult. Their knowledge can yield only estimates after conducting surveys and utilizing past experience. There are also times when they believe there is a certain type of layout underground only to find that it is not at all what they thought.
There are several issues involved with drilling for oil that require HDD drilling such as:
- The area being surveyed may actually be nothing like they thought when the drill gets down there. It may be merely sand mixed with oil, or shale. With directional drilling, the team can move the flexible drill around in shale to see if there are any streams of oil to follow.
- There may be impenetrable rock formations between the earth’s surface and oil beds.
- Towns, cities, mountainous areas, and protected preservation lands can impede drilling At times, the oil is found in several pockets that are not conjoined and have to follow an irregular path to get to the beds of oil.
- Often an oil team will discover oil directly under a thick layer of salt or a fault line causing technical difficulties easily solved with directional drilling
- The pool of oil is diagonally shaped causing the oil to collect deeper at one end than the other
- The oil reservoir may be connected to other areas of oil in oddly shaped designs causing the need for a flexible drill.
- Being able to drill horizontally on large bodies of water such as the ocean, would have fewer technical and risky issues to deal with
- Large single areas of oil under the ground are becoming more difficult to find–more and more are presenting as smaller pockets tunneling to other smaller pockets in which directional drilling is the only answer.
In addition, there are also instances of oil rapidly spewing through a prevention gasket and directional drilling must be used to quickly drill an adjoining tunnel, to alleviate the pressure and slow down the eruption of oil. After control is reached, a special fluid can be poured into the faulty tunnel to permanently stop it from happening again.
HDD drilling is now a vital part of harvesting our world’s oil supply, and is an invaluable asset positively affecting the global economy down to individual families–and technology is improving every, single day to improve the industry even more.