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Multilateral/Extended-Reach Wells
Bernt S. Aadnøy, SPE, Professor of Petroleum Engineering, University of Stavanger

The development of multilateral wells The main benefit from There has been considerable develop-
and long-reach wells has become impor- ment around these technologies. Those
tant to maximizing recovery for many directional drilling is the that help clear the challenges, such as
fields. These technologies are often maximizing of reservoir those related to wellbore stability, well-
applied in offshore environments, where bore friction, equipment limitations,
large reservoir areas are drained from
recovery. From this and operational aspects, can be consid-
one or more platforms. perspective, multilateral/ ered mature technologies today.
In the late 1980s, long-reach wells extended-reach wells may The main benefit from directional
started to use existing infrastructure drilling is the maximizing of reservoir
better by drilling beyond the design lim- be considered one of the recovery. From this perspective, mul-
its of that time. Several major operators more important means of tilateral/extended-reach wells may be
were extending their limits, and, in the considered one of the more important
late 1990s, BP Wytch Farm showed that improved oil recovery. means of improved oil recovery.
a horizontal departure exceeding 10 km Although these directional-well con-
was feasible. This had a significant effect There were many drivers for this devel- cepts have been used for some years,
on the industry because offshore plat- opment. One of the more important was they were initially costly with a high eco-
forms now could be designed for up to the desire to increase production in tight nomic risk. There is a continuous tech-
10-km reach, as opposed to the early reservoirs. Another advantage is direc- nology development at many levels that
1980s when 3-km reach was common. tional control. Well stimulation with leads to improvements. These result in
A field could now be developed with one fracturing has the drawback that the more-efficient processes, with increased
platform instead of three, resulting in fracture direction is controlled by the field recoveries as a consequence. There-
enormous savings. in-situ stresses in the rock. Multilater- fore, multilaterals and extended-reach
Multilateral-well technology also al branches, on the other hand, can be wells are now common and will be very
matured during the past 2 decades. drilled in any direction. important for future cost-effective oil
and gas production. JPT

Bernt S. Aadnøy, SPE, is a professor of petroleum engineering

at the University of Stavanger, specializing in all aspects of well
engineering, including geomechanics. He worked for major Recommended additional reading
operators in the oil industry from 1978 until 1994, when he tran- at OnePetro: www.onepetro.org.
sitioned to academia. Aadnøy has published more than SPE 174035 Technology Qualification
150  papers, holds several patents, and has authored or and Installation Plan of Efficient and
coauthored five books, among them Modern Well Design, Accurate Multilaterals Drilling Stimulation
Petroleum Rock Mechanics, and Mechanics of Drilling. He was Technology for Sandstone Oil Application
also one of the editors of the SPE book Advanced Drilling and Well Technology. by Kevin Rice, Fishbones, et al.
Aadnøy holds a BS degree in mechanical engineering from the University of SPE/IADC 168055 Expanding the
Wyoming, an MS degree in control engineering from The University of Texas at Extended-Reach Envelope at Chayvo
Austin, and a PhD degree in petroleum rock mechanics from the Norwegian Institute Field, Sakhlin Island by Vishwas P. Gupta,
of Technology. He was the recipient of the 1999 SPE International Drilling Engineering ExxonMobil, et al.
Award and is also a 2015 SPE/AIME Honorary Member and a 2015 SPE Distinguished SPE 168235 CT Extended Reach: Can We
Member. Aadnøy is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee and can be reached at Reach Farther? by Ken Newman, KNewman
bernt.aadnoy@uis.no. Engineering, et al.

JPT • MAY 2016 79