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).
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