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Defining Drilling

Date: 02/22/2013

Turning to the Right—An Overview of Drilling Operations


The most recognizable icon of the oil and gas industry is a derrick towering high over the wellsite. The drilling rig represents the culmination of an intensive exploration process; only by drilling a well can a prospect be validated. Once oil companies acquire drilling rights to a prospect, their geoscientists relay potential pay zone coordinates and formation evaluation goals to their drilling engineers, who translate these into drilling targets.

The drilling department plans a trajectory that maximizes wellbore exposure to the pay zones and designs bottomhole assemblies (BHAs) to achieve that course. The engineers prepare a detailed plan for each stage of the drilling process. This drilling prognosis designates a surface location and total depth (TD) for the well and specifies the bit size, anticipated mud weights and casing programs needed to reach TD. For deviated wells, it establishes the bottomhole location (BHL) of the well and the initial deflection depth and azimuth for the kickoff point (KOP). The prognosis serves as the basis for a drilling budget set forth in an authorization for expenditure (AFE).

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