Applications of Horizontal Directional Drilling
Suppose you drilled a borehole and you now want to deliver water to people around the borehole. This requires an underground piping system, which was conventionally installed through the very disruptive open-cut method – digging long trenches to pay the pipes.
Today however, you can easily do the same thing using horizontal directional drilling, which is a trenchless drilling method that can be used to install underground cabling systems or piping through a preset pathway using highly specialized equipment.
This approach is a great alternative where open cut piping methods are impractical, prohibited or economically and environmentally nonviable. Horizontal directional drilling reduces environmental impact of drilling activity, saves costs and reduces exposure of the general public to potential hazards.
Common applications of horizontal directional drilling
1. To reach targets that are inaccessible by vertical drilling
For instance, if you have a resource reservoir under a city or public park, you may not be able to access it vertically. However, horizontal drilling enables you to be able to reach the reservoir by simply positioning your drilling pad at the edge of that city or pack then drilling at an angle so as to interest with the reservoir.
2. Draining board areas from just one drilling pad
This method is especially useful when you want to reduce the impact of drilling operations on the surface. Using a single drilling pad strategically located, you can drill more directional wells to tap into a natural resource reservoir and still take advantage of the resource, rather than drill vertical wells in multiple locations.
3. To increase “pay zone” length
If you have a rock unit seventy feet thick, vertical drilling earns you a ‘pay zone’ of only that length. With horizontal directional drilling however, you can turn the well and drill through the rock unit horizontally, giving you’re a pay zone that is as long as the length of the unit, which can extend thousands of feet across. In this way, you enjoy a huge increase in productivity with minimal surface impact from a single drilling endeavor.
4. Improve well productivity in fractured reservoirs
To do this, the angle of drilling is set such that the drilling pathway intersects with the highest number of fractured reservoirs. Usually, the drilling direction is set perpendicular to the direction of the dominant fracture. A common application is in geothermal fields within granite bedrock, which normally draw most of their water exchange from fractured reservoirs.
5. To relieve pressure or seal uncontrollable wells
If you have an out-of-control well, you can use horizontal directional drilling to create a ‘relief well’ intersecting with it. This intersecting well can then be used to relieve pressure or completely seal the uncontrollable well
6. To lay underground utility piping where excavation is impossible
This is the most common application to our daily lives, where horizontal drilling is used for the installation of gas and water piping or electric and other cabling in major settlement areas. However, the same can be applied if you need pipes and cables to cross roads or rivers.