Oil and natural gas deposits are found sporadically under the ground. Sometimes they’re right next to another deposit, sometimes they’re under a city and sometimes they’re under an environmentally protected habitat. In the past, one or more wells were drilled for each deposit.
But today, thanks to smart technology, drills can now be “steered” with pinpoint accuracy, in every direction—down from the wellhead, horizontally left or right, up to five miles through sand and shale, around a geologic feature, and down again. These advances enable us to drill several reservoirs from one location at the surface, reducing the environmental footprint and improving efficiency.
It used to take a 20 acre drill site to access an area of one square mile underground. Today, America’s oil and natural gas companies can access 80 square miles with a drill site as small as two acres. For example, using directional and horizontal drilling, companies can access resources from a single well bore several miles away, minimizing the environmental footprint of development.
Petroleum engineers use the 3-D and 4-D seismic data to design a well route, in much the same way that a traffic engineer plots the highways around a city.
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