By Philippe Coffin, published on January 12th, 2018, modified on February 27th, 2018
It’s easy to be sure you’re on the right trajectory in vertical drilling, much less so when you start to approach the horizontal. Back in 1981, we didn’t have sensors connected to computers. We had to make do with what we had on hand. The only instrument we had was a magnetic single-shot, a sort of miniature camera with a compass. To check the direction and hole angle, we had to stop drilling and lower the magnetic single-shot to the bottom of the well, take a ‘snapshot,’ haul the instrument back up with a cable and read the negative to see where the needle was pointing. It took at least an hour each time! A timer set before the descent down the drillpipe turned the camera on and off and controlled how long the film was exposed. This was usually the responsibility of the toolpusher, who would carefully orchestrate every step of the process, yelling ‘the timer, the timer’ for fear of triggering the instrument on the way down! The first wells were drilled using this hands-on approach, until measurement while drilling (MWD) was developed, and there again Elf Aquitaine was a pioneer.
Extract from the book Horizontal Drilling, the story of an industrial revolution (2016).
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