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Oil Drilling

Volume 201: debated on Friday 20 December 1991

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has on recent technological developments on long-reach horizontal drilling for oil; how many horizontal wells are currently operational off the coast of the United Kingdom; what information he has on future plans for horizontal wells; and if he will make a statement.

Most fields in the United Kingdom sector of the North sea have been developed with a proportion of the wells deviated to angles between 30 and 75 degrees from the vertical. Over the last three years improved understanding of the technical factors relevant to high angle drilling has enabled an increasing number of wells to be drilled into the productive areas of reservoirs at angles of up to 90 degrees. It is estimated that to date about 40 such wells, have been drilled or are currently drilling in the UKCS. Since, depending on circumstances, economic recovery from horizontal wells can be significantly higher than from conventional wells, I would expect the incidence of such drilling to increase in the future as knowledge and experience of the techniques involved improve further.