Key Considerations for Directional Drilling Designs

Adapted from the traditional vertical well of the oil and gas industry, directional drilling has proven to be the more cost effective alternative to open excavation. It involves controlling the curve of a wellbore to a predetermined underground target. While it is deemed the best trenchless alternative, having a design that considers the most important aspects of directional drilling will maximize efficiency and control costs. 

Geo-technical Report

The geo-technical report, also called geo-technical investigation, is used determine the conditions for drilling as well as to gain any permits necessary to proceed with the project. It can determine the extensiveness of a project and the trajectory of a wellbore design. The drilling industry recognizes the usefulness of a proper geo-technical investigative reports but report quality varies across the board as well as the ability for engineers and drilling contractors to use the information effectively in their projects. A proper report should measure surface and subsurface conditions including, but not limited to variations in soil grain size, soil plasticity, soil identification, soil deposit variations and the presence of any obstacles.The geo-technical report should also include information on the location such as seismic activity, presence of ground water, and considerations and alternatives for geological issues.

Drilling Fluid

Drilling fluid, also called drilling mud, acts as a lubricant for the drill bit during water and gas extraction and other applications as well as transport the cuttings of the drill to the surface. While, not all drilling fluids used are made with potable water, it is important to consider the accessibility of the potable water to the project being designed. Many areas have regulations surrounding ground water and a directional drilling company must adhere to strict regulations to ensure local drinking water supplies are not contaminated.

Proper Placement of Equipment

While it may seem obvious that equipment needs to be properly placed, directional drilling requires precise preliminary placement of the drilling equipment at the site location. A drilling rig and stabilizing equipment, as well as the supporting components, such as power sources, offices etc., must be set up before the boring begins. After this step, a pilot whole is drilled to determine the ultimate placement of the pipe, followed by clearing and preparing the space for the larger pipe.

Technology is improving all the time to aid geo-technial engineers and contractors in the design process of directional drilling projects. To be most effective, the design process should pay special attention to the preliminary aspects such as, generating a good geo-technical investigative report, ensuring the accessibility of potable water for drilling mud, and proper preliminary placement of drilling equipment. These considerations will help to ensure that the directional drilling project stays on time and on budget.