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Horizontal Well


A horizontal well is a type of oil or gas drilling where the hole is not simply dug vertically but runs horizontally at some depth, increasing the surface area of reservoir accessed. This method enhances the productivity due to greater access to the deposits. It is often used to reach resources located under a surface that may not be easily accessible with vertical drilling.


The phonetics for the keyword “Horizontal Well” is: /ˌhɔːrɪˈzɒntl̩ wɛl/

Key Takeaways


  1. Maximised Well Productivity: Horizontal wells allow maximized productivity as they cover a larger portion of the oil reservoir, increasing extraction capacity significantly in comparison to vertical wells.
  2. Improved Hydrocarbon Recovery: Due to their ability to intersect multiple fractures or permeable paths in the reservoir, horizontal wells have a higher recovery rate of hydrocarbons, hence improving the overall efficiency of oil and gas operations.
  3. Lower Environmental Impact: Another notable benefit of horizontal wells is their lower environmental footprint. As multiple wells can be drilled from a single pad, it significantly reduces the surface disturbance and helps maintain the ecological balance.



In the business and finance sector, specifically within oil and gas industries, the term ‘Horizontal Well’ is highly crucial as it refers to an innovative approach for drilling oil and natural gas. Instead of traditional vertical drilling methods, horizontal wells are drilled sideways to increase the access to reserves, leading to higher production rates. This technique also maximizes the exposure to the productive layer of the reservoir, making the extraction process more economical and efficient. Furthermore, far less surface area, and therefore less land, is needed to drill horizontally which can also significantly minimize environmental impacts. Therefore, the concept and application of horizontal wells are considered an essential aspect of the energy sector.


The main purpose of a horizontal well is to increase the productivity and efficiency of oil and gas extraction. This type of drilling technique is particularly beneficial in fields with unconventional resources or reservoirs that are thin, wide, and layered horizontally. The process involves drilling vertically until the desired depth is reached and then transitioning to a horizontal direction, allowing for a significantly greater portion of the reservoir to be accessed. Technological advancements have now made it possible to maintain a horizontal trajectory for several kilometres, improving the rate of resource recovery from the reservoir and reducing the surface footprint.In the business world of petroleum production, horizontal wells are used because they often have a higher production rate compared to conventional vertical wells. This is primarily due to the increased wellbore surface area available for the inflow of hydrocarbons. Also, they allow for a more strategic placement of a well in relation to the geological characteristics of the reservoir, aiding in optimizing production. Besides, horizontal wells are also a key part of modern hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which further improves extraction rates from tight rock formations. As such, they form an integral part of contemporary extraction strategies in the oil and gas industry.


1. Exxon Mobil in the Bakken Shale: One of the most prominent real world examples of a horizontal well is Exxon Mobil’s operation in the Bakken Shale formation, North Dakota, USA. In order to extract oil efficiently from the dense rock formation, Exxon Mobil utilizes horizontal drilling technology. This allows the company to access a significantly larger portion of the reservoir than traditional vertical drilling.2. Gazprom’s Urengoyskoye field, Siberia: Another example of horizontal drilling is Gazprom’s operation in the Urengoyskoye oil and gas field in Western Siberia. The massive reserves of natural gas in this region are accessed using horizontal drilling technology. These horizontal wells can reach over a kilometer in length and allow Gazprom to extract natural gas with far greater efficiency.3. British Petroleum’s Clair Ridge Project: In the North Sea, British Petroleum (BP) has applied horizontal drilling technology in its development of the Clair Ridge, a multi-billion barrel oilfield. By using horizontal wells, BP can significantly decrease the number of platforms needed to efficiently extract the oil, reducing both economic cost and environmental impact.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Horizontal Well?

A horizontal well is a type of well drilled in the oil and gas industry that starts vertically from the surface and then curves to a horizontal direction deep underground. This allows companies to reach gas and oil reservoirs that extend out from the entry point.

What is the purpose of horizontal drilling?

The purpose of this type of drilling is to optimize the production of oil or gas. Horizontal wells can cover a wider area of the reservoir, increasing the extraction efficiency and reducing the number of vertical wells required.

How does a horizontal well differ from a traditional vertical well?

A traditional vertical well is dug straight down into the earth. In contrast, a horizontal well starts vertically but then turns and runs parallel to the ground to access a wider radius of the oil or gas reservoir.

What are some of the advantages of horizontal wells?

Horizontal wells have many advantages including allowing access to deposits that were previously unreachable, increasing the level of exposure to the deposit, decreasing the impact on the surface environment, and improving recovery efficiency thereby reducing costs.

Are there any downsides to horizontal wells?

The drilling process for horizontal wells tends to be more complex, and therefore can be more expensive and time-consuming. There’s also a higher likelihood of complications due to the technicalities involved in drilling at such angles.

Are horizontal wells used for anything apart from oil and gas extraction?

While horizontal wells are most often associated with oil and gas extraction, they are also used in the installation of utility pipelines, environmental remediation techniques, and even to extract geothermal energy in hard to reach places.

What is the impact of horizontal wells on the environment?

Horizontal drilling could potentially have a lesser environmental impact, as it allows for extraction from a single drilling site over a large area. This reduces the number of actual wells needed on the surface, lessening surface disturbance. However, it’s still crucial to follow environmental regulations to minimize any negative effects.

Related Finance Terms

  • Directional Drilling
  • Hydrocarbon Production
  • Reservoir Management
  • Drilling Fluid
  • Completion Technology

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