In Part 1 of this article, we focused on subsea production and dual-gradient drilling. The two technological advancements that are having a profound and growing impact on the feasibility, cost, and safety of drilling in deepwater and ultra-deepwater.
In this second part, we’ll look at the cost saving and efficiency increases inherent in multi-well-pad drilling and at the promise of remote liquefied natural gas processing. We’ll also quickly describe the advancements in seismic data collection and processing. In addition to looking at these technological wrinkles, we’ll also note the companies that stand to benefit the most from their implementation.
The only pad you’ll ever need
Multi-well-pad drilling is a slick-as-a-whistle advancement in onshore drilling that is already revolutionizing our ability to radically cut the time and expenses necessary to drill wells onshore. At the same time, given the cacophony that’s erupted around shale drilling and fracking, it’s important to note that multi-well-pad operations are kinder to the environment than are traditional methods.
Under the older approach, a single pad was required for each well. That one pad typically allowed for drilling on about seven acres.
But with new development — frequently called “octopus” technology — dozens of wells can potentially be drilled in a variety of directions from a single pad. As such, the previous coverage of seven acres per pad catapults to 2,000 acres for each one. The technology is straightforward: Once a pad is placed on a play and a well is drilled, the rig heads off on its hydraulic tentacles to another location, preparing to drill again from that same pad. In the process, the previous five days between wells is slashed to about two hours.
The process, which was first used in Colorado, and has found its way to Pennsylvania, has already been responsible for some amazing statistics: Encana Corporation (USA) (NYSE:ECA) has drilled 51 Piceance shale wells in northwestern Colorado from a single pad. And Devon Energy Corp (NYSE:DVN) has completed 36 wells from a single pad in the Marcellus shale. Obviously, these companies — among others — are already benefiting from this staggering advancement.
As the U.S., with its vast new gas finds, moves toward liquefied natural gas production and export, anyone with a modicum of interest in energy knows about Cheniere Energy, Inc. (NYSEMKT:LNG)‘s current construction of an LNG processing facility at Sabine Pass in southwestern Louisiana. But a couple of other approaches to liquefaction are about to make a big difference in LNG processing.