Horizontal and Complex-Trajectory Wells

“The only thing that is constant is change.” This quote, derived from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, is well-known, and the changes we constantly experience in our industry normally occur in increments. We typically only make dramatic changes to the way we work following major events. Disasters such as Piper Alpha and Macondo, and rapid commodity pricing shifts driven by geopolitical unrest or imbalance of supply/demand, are examples of these. Following these events, technology development and the manner in which business is conducted are all brought into sharp focus—changes that we all feel are made accordingly.

There is no doubt that horizontal and complex-geometry wells have contributed significantly to the reliable supply of affordable energy, resulting in improvements to the quality of life of people around the globe. Historically high oil and gas prices coupled with concern over growing dependence on imports drove technology development, enabling vast quantities of additional supply from previously unrealized geology. The learning curve to achieve this technically was incredibly steep, and the results are nothing short of remarkable. Now, with lower commodity prices and uncertainty over the timing of price recovery, the entire supply chain is squeezed. The challenge has moved to improve efficiency while maintaining a robust, non-­negotiable focus on safety and environmental responsibility. Processes and procedures are being reviewed with efficiency in mind. The focus of technology development is shifting from enabling access and recovery of previously un­attainable resources to driving costs down. The way we work is also being reviewed. Areas such as collaboration between parties who would not previously partner are being investigated as the mutual efficiency benefits become clear. When these inflection points occur, what has been accepted in the past can suddenly look “old-fashioned” and we wonder why we put up with it. These times present tremendous opportunities for innovators in the fields of technology and business management. Any changes made will endure, to the benefit of the industry in the long term.

Horizontal and complex-trajectory wells will continue to contribute significantly to reliable, cost-effective supply of energy. It is exciting to consider what will change in terms of technology and business collaboration affecting their application, design, and performance as a direct result of the current situation. The papers selected for this year’s edition include examples of how the return on investment from these wells can improve continually.

Recommended Additional Reading

IPTC 17816 Horizontal-Well Risk Assessment From Geosteering and Formation-Evaluation Perspectives by Gagok Imam Santoso, Schlumberger, et al.

SPE 170754 Increasing Oil Recovery From Long Horizontal Wells Using Advanced Lower-Completion Systems by P. Joseph, Baker Hughes, et al.

SPE 171825 The Longest Horizontal Well Drilled in the UAE, Geosteering in a Thin Calcareous Dolomite Sublayer by Nashat Abbas, Zadco, et al.


Jon Ruszka, SPE, holds the position of drilling adviser for Baker Hughes operations in the Europe, Africa, Russia, and Caspian areas. He has more than 25 years of industry experience in various technical, operational, and marketing positions focused on the application and advancement of directional-drilling technology and wellbore-positioning techniques. Ruszka holds a BS honors degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Bristol and a post-graduate diploma with distinction in offshore engineering from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. He has authored or coauthored numerous SPE papers, serves on the annual IADC/SPE Drilling Conference and Exhibition Organizing Committee, served on the 2013 SPE Offshore Europe Committee, and is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee.

Horizontal and Complex-Trajectory Wells

Jon Ruszka, SPE, Drilling Adviser, Baker Hughes

20 October 2015

Volume: 67 | Issue: 11

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