MULTI-WELL-PAD DRILLING: OCTPUS IN THE HOUSE
One of the greatest drilling developments of the last decade is multiple well pads, which some like to refer to as “Octopus” technology.
Imagine gaining access to multiple buried wells at the same time, from a single pad site. This is what “Octopus” technology is doing, first in a canyon in northwestern Colorado in the Piceance Shale Formation and then in the Marcellus shale. It's definitely not your traditional horizontal drilling.
Traditionally, to drill a single well, a company needs a pad or land site for each well drilled. Each of these pads covers an average of 7 acres. The Octopus allows for multiple well drilling from a single pad, which can handle between 4 and 18 wells. So, a single pad on 7 acres can now be used to drill on up to 2,000 acres of reserves. More than anything, it means that drilling will be faster, faster, faster … And less expensive in the long run once it renders it unnecessary to break down rigs and put them together again at the next drilling location. It's simple math: 4 pads usually equals 4 wells; now 1 pad can equal between 4 and 18 wells.
Here's how the technology works: A well pad is set up and the first well is drilled, then the rig literally “crawls” on its hydraulic tentacles to another drill location from the same pad, repeatedly. And it's multi-directional. It takes about two hours between each well drilling. With traditional horizontal drilling methods, it takes about five days to move from pad to pad and start drilling a new well.
Last year, Devon Energy finished a 36-well drilling program from a single pad site in the Barnett Shale. More recently, Encana (ECA) drilled 51 wells covering 640 underground acres from a single pad site with a surface area of only 4.6 acres in Colorado. Multi-well pad drilling is also revolutionizing drilling in Bakken, and this is definitely the long-term outlook for shale. It will become the norm.
It's also good (or at least slightly better) news for the environment because it means less drilling disturbance on the surface as we render more of the process underground.
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