Russell Bentley, director of technical business development and WSP’s project manager for the facility’s development, noted that the existing vertical wells at Tri-Cities would not be able to “drain” the field efficiently during operations, so the project team had to look for alternatives.
“The solution that stood out was to drill a series of new horizontal wells, which would substantially improve the facility’s long-term operational performance,” he said. Optimum locations for five new horizontal wells were identified by the client and verified by the 3D reservoir model.
Drilling the wells presented some significant technical challenges. “After reaching a vertical depth of about 7,000 feet, we had to turn the wells 90 degrees to drill the horizontal sections,” Bentley said. “In addition, we were working within a very restricted natural gas zone that was in effect only about two feet thick.” A geosteering technique that involved the use of logging-while-drilling tools mounted at the bottom of the drill string allowed the team to receive real-time data about the formation.
The work was performed on a highly accelerated schedule, with two drilling rigs operating continuously for about four months to complete all five wells. During this stage, four drilling supervisors from WSP alternated shifts while living at the site. One of their tasks was to ensure that the work crews followed established safety procedures at all times.