Exploration - Production | - France

The challenge was irresistible

In 1980, I was offered the position of project manager for the horizontal drilling R&D project. When the head of R&D told me that I was going to drill at 90°, I kept my mouth shut but I had my doubts — and I wasn’t the only one! I had spent the previous ten years, from 1969 to 1979, drilling vertical wells, first in Canada and then in Libya. I had no idea of the challenges involved in directional drilling. I remember meeting Bernard Astier in Pau, just before he left for China. He was a true believer, brimming with enthusiasm. I was 40 years old and was eager to pull off this insane professional challenge. My predecessor left me a year’s worth of studies and the first tangible result: the Lacq test well. I said to myself, ‘Why not?’ I wrote the report on the first well for the joint Elf Aquitaine/IFP project management committee and recommended drilling a second horizontal well in Lacq to ‘prove that the success of the first well wasn’t just a fluke.’ A year later, this new well, deeper and with a longer horizontal section, confirmed the technique’s feasibility. We had realized every reservoir engineer’s dream: drilling through a reservoir horizontally to improve its productivity. A decade later, the drilling industry had no more doubts: barring a good reason to drill vertically, every well was horizontal.


Extract from the book Horizontal Drilling, the story of an industrial revolution (2016).  Order the book for free by sending us an email at wiki.total@total.com 


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