Drilling wells at an angle instead of straight down is now common practice in oil and gas. Called directional or “slanty” drilling, it gives operators way more access to reserves that vertical wells can’t reach easily. By veering off to the side, directional wells provide lots of technical and money benefits over conventional vertical ones.

As formations like tight oil and gas-filled shale become more important sources, slanty drilling is key. Some of the advantages that help lower costs and boost profits include:

Improved Reservoir Contact and Drainage

One of the primary benefits of directional drilling is the ability to reach targets laterally that could not easily be accessed with a vertical borehole. By turning the well at an angle, directional wells can intersect more of the producing formation or reservoir contacts over greater lengths. This allows for improved reservoir contact and drainage across wider areas.

Optimal Development of Shale Reservoirs

Directional wells let you intersect more of the productive zone or reservoir over greater distances than verticals. This improves drainage across wider areas. Horizontal wellbores drilled parallel to shale layers provide optimal exposure to natural and hydraulic fractures within the formation. According to the Energy Information Administration, over 80% of new wells drilled in shale plays in the United States are now horizontal.

Reduced Surface Footprint and Infrastructure Needs

From an operations standpoint, directional drilling reduces surface footprint and associated infrastructure needs. Multiple lateral wellbores can be drilled out from a single vertical well, also known as a multi-well pad. This decreases well-site space and permits more efficient centralized processing facilities. Fewer well pads and longer laterals mean less environmental disturbance, which is a key benefit, especially for sensitive onshore locales. 

Optimized Offshore Development

Offshore, directional drilling allows operators to reach targets from existing platforms rather than requiring expensive additional facilities. Complex well trajectories can be employed to circumvent subsea pits and hazards, recover reserves not accessible with vertical wells alone, and optimize reservoir drainage across large offshore fields.

Advanced Technical Precision

Combined with improved well path steering tools and real-time drilling practices like measurement-while-drilling, directional capabilities have advanced hugely over recent decades. The ability to very accurately place long, horizontal laterals at specific depths and tracks has unlocked reserves previously thought technically unrecoverable. Directional well lengths now commonly exceed two miles.

Improved Economics

Optimizing placement based on geology maximizes contact with natural cracks and productivity. Fewer slanty wells are often needed compared to verticals, saving drilling and completion costs while boosting recovery. Multi-well laterals further consolidate surface investments.

Bottom Line

In summary, the technical capabilities and economic advantages afforded by directional drilling have been transformative for the oil and gas industry. By extending reach, minimizing environmental footprint, maximizing drainage, and achieving cost efficiencies, directional wells are key enablers for developing unconventional resources and maximizing recovery from conventional fields. Their benefits will continue to grow as directional drilling and well construction technologies progressively advance.

Directional drilling plays a critical role in optimally developing our energy resources. At Taber Solids Control, we strive to enable our clients’ directional well projects through reliable solids control equipment and services. Contact our specialists today to learn how our cutting-edge shale shakers, centrifuges, and other solids control equipment can help maximize the benefits of directional drilling and set your operations up for enhanced safety, productivity, and cost-effectiveness.