Radial Drilling – A perfect delivery system for chemicals, bacteria or organic EOR solutions?
We have a long held the belief that Radial Drilling could be the best thing to happen to the chemical industry for many years. The use of chemicals, or organic treatments, to enhance oil production and recovery is a well-established mature industry. However, a problem and challenge that has always existed are how to get these solutions out to where you want them, or to where they actually need to be.
Imagine if there was a radial underground pipeline system back to the vertical wellbore, providing the ability to introduce higher volumes of solutions, far out in the formation, exactly where they are needed.
For decades, we’ve seen a multitude of solutions on the market, including:
• Asphaltene Dissolvers and inhibitors
• Emulsion breakers
• Paraffin Control Agents
• Iron Sulfide & Sludge Control
• Scale inhibitors
More recently the emergence of novel bacteria solutions, to either treat problems or enhance production, has many operators excited by results. In a recent communication with a global leader in the deployment of bacteria to enhance hydrocarbon recovery, the quote ‘we believe that the bacteria process will be the killer app for Radial Jet Drilling’ was used.
Whether bacteria is the killer app for Radial Drilling or Radial Drilling becomes the killer app for bacteria, (or other chemical solutions) is something the oil & gas industry should be paying attention to. What’s absolutely certain is that when successfully deployed together, the probability of achieving a solid commercial outcome will be considerably increased.
As the Radial Drilling Consultants business grows and expands, we plan to work with the leaders in various chemical and bacteria organizations, deploying their technologies in tandem with Radial Drilling projects we will be completing around the world. The term ‘no-brainer’ is often highly misused, however, in this case, it seems more than reasonable.
In the late 90’s, when the price of oil was just over $20, one inventor of a Radial Drilling technology had been working with chemicals in the Permian Basin to try and resolve common near wellbore formation damage problems. Working with local specialist companies he developed some novel solutions, however, was constantly frustrated by his inability to get the chemicals where they needed to be.
This is when he had a ‘eureka’ moment. As an engineer, who had drilled and completed wells throughout the US, including off-shore in the Gulf of Mexico, he considered the benefits his chemicals would have If he could mill large holes in the casing and create tunnels out through the damage, into the formation. He then planned to pump his solutions out past the damage, allowing them to flow back to the wellbore, cleaning up the damage on the way.
With Radial Drilling technology evolving so that laterals can be steered, directed and even allowing for a pattern of fishbone laterals to be drilled from one milled casing hole, a new opportunity has been created. There are those who believe that if you can reliably drill these large diameter laterals out into the formation, then the wells wouldn’t require any further stimulation.
Given the minimal incremental cost of introducing chemicals or bacteria at the time of Radial Drilling deployment, there is a compelling case for doing so. A challenge for Radial Drilling systems is selecting the perfect fluid (water) mixture to create the laterals. It is common knowledge that different formations will react differently to the introduction of foreign drilling fluids, creating a scenario where as you solve one problem, you create another.
The emergence of new Radial Drilling technology, that utilizes mechanical drill bits and not high-pressure water to create the lateral tunnels is certainly a technology to keep an eye on. The ViperDrill system from the USA is leading the way in this field and throughout 2018 we will be working with the Viper system and closely monitoring results.
An exciting aspect of the work we will be completing in 2018 is unlocking the formula that will lead to substantially higher production and recovery from established reservoirs. In future blog articles, we will explore the concept of frac’ing down laterals, as this would appear to be another great application for Radial Drilling. As effective as frac’ing can be, frac’ing also has a number of limitations and challenges. Creating tunnels as large as 2” in diameter as a pathway to then initiate a frac down, appears to have many benefits.
As highlighted in previous blog articles and featured on our website (www.radialdrillingconsultant.com), deploying chemicals or bacteria solutions in conjunction with laterals can only happen as Radial Drilling technology matures and reaches the stage where laterals are definitely being created in the first place. We remain highly skeptical of many dubious claims being made by various providers, in terms of lateral lengths being achieved and that they are jetted in a perfectly straight direction.
Radial Drilling Consultants maintains an independent perspective of all the available technology and systems and therefore offer a balanced and unique service to operators. There are many tremendous opportunities and we welcome any feedback or comments from anyone interested in understanding more on this topic.