Advances in Drilling Technologies Lower Costs
EIA's "Today in Energy" reports on how "Developments in drilling methods and technology are leading to efficiency gains for oil and natural gas producers":
1. "For example, "pad" drilling techniques allow rig operators to drill groups of wells more efficiently, because improved rig mobility reduces the time it takes to move from one well location to the next, while reducing the overall surface footprint. A drilling pad is a location which houses the wellheads for a number of horizontally drilled wells. The benefit of a drilling pad is that operators can drill multiple wells in a shorter time than they might with just one well per site."
"In the top picture above, each of the four drilling pads hosts six horizontal wells. Pad drilling allows producers to target a significant area of underground resources while minimizing impact on the surface. Concentrating the wellheads also helps the producer reduce costs associated with managing the resources above-ground and moving the production to market."
2. "Moving a drilling rig between two well sites previously involved disassembling the rig and reassembling it at the new location ("rigging down" and "rigging up") even if the new location was only a few yards away. Today, a drilling pad may have five to ten wells, which are horizontally drilled in different directions, spaced fairly close together at the surface. Once one well is drilled, the fully constructed rig can be lifted and moved a few yards over to the next well location using hydraulic walking or skidding systems, as demonstrated in this video by Range Resources."
"One of the industry's more recent innovations, pad-to-pad moves, underscores the efficiency gains from rig mobility and pad drilling. During the drilling operation in the bottom picture above, rig operator Nabors Industries transported a fully-assembled drilling rig about one mile between drill sites. The cost of rigging down and rigging back up can be high enough that producers may find it more efficient to build a road between two pads, transport the rig intact, and have it arrive ready to drill the next well."