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What is directional drilling?

Whilst the world has made much progress in moving on from fossil fuels and focusing on global warming, there is still a massive dependency on oil, and as such, a responsibility on oil and gas companies to drill as responsibly and safely as possible.

Directional drilling and companies offering directional drilling services are a major part of ensuring that oil production is done in the most financially efficient manner and, at the same time, the most environmentally friendly way possible.

What is directional drilling?

Most people are familiar with the site of an oil well, or several oil wells scattered around a large area of land. What they do not get to see is what goes on underneath the well.

In its most general terms, directional drilling is the process of drilling for oil and gas that does not go straight down into the ground but can drill in different directions and at different angles.

The use of directional drilling to explore underground oil fields has been done for a while, but with the increases in technology, it has become significantly more efficient and effective in the last few years.

The use of computers has enabled engineers to generate 3-D images of underground oilfields and use GPS signals to pinpoint exact resources, allowing the extraction of oil and gas to be done through single wells using the process of directional drilling.

Because the use of these techniques is such a highly skilled process, many specialist companies are involved both in the training and the delivery of directional drilling services. They will be crucial in overseeing the planning, the boring of the well, and the maintenance of the equipment and will be able to respond to any problems that may arise.

Benefits of directional drilling

Without directional drilling, companies would have to use multiple wells that could only drill straight down, which would be hugely damaging to the environment, and generate significant costs from their point of view.

Directional drilling allows them to dramatically reduce the number of wells they need to use. This has major benefits both overground and underground.

The fewer wells there are means less damage to the soil and environment, and it means that the safety management of these wells can be dramatically improved, simply because there are fewer of them.

Drilling underground inevitably runs risks to any nearby environment, both in terms of land and people.

Directional drilling can target and minimise the amount of drilling that needs to be done, both in terms of accessing oil wells and investigating the potential of other ones that need to be explored.

The other main advantage of directional drilling is that it allows oil companies to explore areas underground that could potentially have significant reserves of oil, which would otherwise be inaccessible or uneconomically viable to explore.

Directional drilling regulatory framework

Because directional drilling allows companies to drill at angles away from the base of the well, it means that the drilling process could in theory be conducted under land or property where communities of people live or work.

Because of this, there are normally quite strict regulatory procedures that the oil or gas company needs to observe and follow before any drilling process can take place.