June 21, 2022

Directional Drilling

A New Innovation for Drilling

The technology for drilling into the Earth has significantly evolved over the past hundred years. With conventional drilling methods, the drills’ path, also known as the bore path, is drilled straight down, in a vertical line, into the ground. 

Directional drilling is a revolutionary type of drilling used today, and it is used when the trajectory of the bore path isn’t a vertical, straight line. Even if the driller veers at all from 180 degrees downwards, it is called directional drilling. This method has been used for just under 100 years, and with it, some significantly innovative strategies for drilling have been established. 

Specially designed turbodrills and rotary steering drills are able to make “turns” along the drill path, this means drilling operators are able to avoid obstacles while drilling, whether geological formations, old pipelines, and city buildings.  Directional drilling is also being used to avoid damaging wetlands and avoiding streams and rivers.

There is a multitude of benefits to using a directional drill and through this article, we desire to enlighten and educate the reader on the efficiencies of directional drilling. 

Drilling 2.0: What is Directional Drilling?

Directional drilling begins by establishing a drill’s path. Highly-trained drilling operators carefully construct the bore path to identify the target, as well as any obstacles or obstructions in the way. Then the locations of all entry and exit points are established. The drilling operator begins drilling and the drilling team is able to guide the drill using a tracking beacon. The drilling operator is able to monitor the tracking beacon’s depth, position, and area of the housing.

Fluid mixers mix lubricating fluid, typically a watery, mud mixture. This mixture is usually composed of 95% water and 5 % bentonite clay. This mixture is a natural, non-toxic substance, meaning it’s always safe for the environment. This lubricating mixture is added to the drill bit for more efficient drilling. Excess drilling fluid is removed with a vacuum excavator when the drilling work is completed. 

After the path has been drilled, it is then enlarged, typically to 1.5 times the size of the initial hole. From there, the area is able to be excavated, as with the field of oil or natural gas, or utility installations are able to be made, like with water, sewer, fiber, electric, gas, and other pipelines. 

Drilling for Natural Gas: How directional drilling is changing the game

Directional drilling has been used successfully to underground deposits that are located in hard-to-reach places. Directional drilling has also been revolutionary for this industry because it allows the operator to explore more of the reservoirs since reservoirs usually form horizontally and not in vertical pools. 

Directional drilling can be used for a hard-to-reach well, reservoir, or other deposits that are located beneath the surface of the earth, under bodies of water, or in other hard-to-reach places.

Directional drilling is a great way to access a reservoir of oil and natural gas deposits that would otherwise be inaccessible. This type of drilling can help a directional drilling company save money and resources by avoiding the need to drill multiple wells. Directional drilling can also help reduce the environmental impact of oil and natural gas extraction by minimizing the number of wells that need to be drilled.

Directional drilling is a complex process and this drilling requires specialized equipment and trained personnel.

Directional Drilling Method and Types

According to the specifications of the well’s trajectory, some very important drilling methods and directional drilling technology, such as vertical drilling, directional drilling, and horizontal drilling, have been innovated in recent years. 

Horizontal directional drilling (HDD)

Horizontal direction drilling, as well as Extended Reach Drilling (ERD), and High-Angle Deviation Drilling are drilling techniques where the bore path is at angles greater than 60 degrees, usually 70-90. Horizontal drilling has been a revolutionary technique for crude oil and many other industries. This directional drilling method optimizes the yield of crude oil and other natural resources while minimizing the environmental impact. This method of directional drilling is used to create long, horizontal tunnels.

Horizontal directional drilling is often used to create tunnels for pipelines, and sewer lines, and for the establishment of utilities such as fiber, electricity, and gas.

Vertical directional drilling (VDD)

Vertical directional drilling is a type of directional drilling used to create vertical shafts. Vertical directional drilling is often used for the excavation of deep formations of water, oil, and natural gas. Vertical directional drilling, VDD, is a very important tool used to exploit deep geothermal energy and geo-resources. Without a doubt, vertical and directional drilling techniques are the key drilling technologies necessary for the safe and effective exploration and exploitation of crude oil and natural gas resources.

Through these drilling techniques, drill paths are able to be drilled under a waterway or other designated area.  

Benefits of Directional Drilling

Directional drilling can offer a number of benefits, including the ability to drill in difficult-to-reach areas, increased accuracy, and increased efficiency. Directional drilling is successfully being used for sidetracking, controlling vertical wells, and drilling inaccessible locations. It is also being used for cluster drilling, for use on offshore development drilling, salt dome drilling, fault control, horizontal wells, extended reach wells, multilateral drilling, and other non-petroleum uses.

Drilling with UPSCO: here for your directional drilling needs

The team at UPSCO has been a leader in the directional drilling industry since 1965. If you’re ready to learn more about directional drilling, our team is here to assist you with your directional drilling projects. We have the knowledge and resources needed to partner with you for your directional drilling work. For more information on our products and services, reach out to us today!