Oil is a finite natural resource, but one that human beings rely on heavily. Dwindling supplies have forced engineers and energy companies to become creative in accessing oil deposits that were previously unobtainable. Here are some common oil drilling techniques.
Vertical drilling is more or less what it sounds like. It bores a hole straight down into the ground from which oil is then extracted. Not all oil deposits are accessible with vertical drilling. However, even when vertical drilling is ineffective by itself, it can be a component of other drilling techniques.
Directional drilling is a technique that allows access to deposits that vertical drilling cannot reach. As an example, it allows access to undersea reservoirs via offshore drilling operations that may require periodic barge and boat repair. As the hole deepens, the drill travels along a predetermined curved path. It may be guided by computers.
Many people know this technique by its more common colloquial name: fracking. It involves drilling wellbores and then blasting the rock with a fluid mixture containing chemicals and sand and exposed to extreme pressure. The fluid forms cracks in the rocks that allow the oil or natural gas underneath to rise to the surface. Fracking is controversial due to potential health risks and environmental hazards. However, its effectiveness is undeniable.
When the deposit runs horizontally, the drilling technique is adapted to suit. However, horizontal drilling is a slight misnomer because there is an element of vertical drilling to it as well. Vertical drilling is required to reach the level where the oil is located and the direction can shift to horizontal. The resulting pattern forms the shape of a letter J. Extracting the oil can only be completed successfully if the proper angle is calculated before horizontal drilling takes place.