Vertical wells only expose below the bit.
Fracking gets all the headlines as the technology that allowed the extraction of shale oil and gas but without the long laterals of horizontal wells there wouldn’t be enough exposed pay zone to frack in the first place. And, frankly, what’s more impressive? Being able to bust open some rock or accurately drill a 20,000-foot well 90 degrees from vertical? Settle down frac hands, I’m being sarcastic … sort of.
We’ve known for a while about the large quantities of oil and gas trapped in shale plays like the Eagle Ford in Texas and Bakken in North Dakota. The problem is that the pore spaces in tight shale formations prevent economically attractive amounts of oil and gas from flowing freely into a conventional wellbore. Vertical wells only expose the portion of the shale formation that is directly below the bit. That’s fine if you’re drilling through several hundred feet of pay zone, but it is less than ideal if your target is only 20 feet thick. What if you could drill inside instead of through that formation?