Industry Article: Oilfield Horizontal Drilling Technology Used to Degas an Australian Coal Mine

Oilfield horizontal drilling technology used to degas an Australian coal mine
Publication: World Oil
Publication Date: 02/01/2012

Extended reach drilling (ERD) technology, widely used for oilfield applications, is now being deployed in a large underground mine to drain methane gas, enabling safe, continuous coal extraction operations. A specially designed rig has been built to facilitate drilling these horizontal wells, which are at shallower depths than would be normal for oil or gas development. Integrated services deployed include an automated surface rotation control system, and real-time analysis of drilling and advanced ranging for accurate positioning of the bottomhole assembly (BHA). Horizontal wells have been drilled successfully and cost-effectively at a depth of about 500 ft and up to 12,000-ft TD, intersecting existing vertical wells as planned, and helping achieve coal production quotas. Building a pattern of vertical and horizontal gas ventilation wells was new to both Xstrata and Schlumberger. The first two holes presented several learning opportunities, but by the third horizontal well, an effective process had been established that has delivered continuously improved efficiency with each subsequent well. In addition to robust, fit-for-purpose technology, integrated planning and effective job execution, a high standard of personnel expertise and good team collaboration have been the key factors for the ongoing success of this project.

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