Horizontal drilling is a type of well drilling that allows users to access sites that are not directly below the drilling site. This type of drilling is different from directional drilling because it can take up to 2,000 feet for a vertical drill to be shifted 90 degrees to make it a horizontal drill. The technology that has allowed horizontal drilling to occur has lead, in part, to the increase in natural gas production in the United States. Oil and gas producers have been drilling horizontal wells for shale gas in the United States since 1988. Horizontal drilling has few environmental impacts when compared to traditional vertical drilling. Instead of drilling multiple vertical wells, one horizontal well provides access to a mile of oil or gas deposits. This reduces the amount of visible construction, air pollution, decreases water usage and can improve access to reserves without affecting sensitive areas. Horizontal wells cost three times as much to drill as vertical wells, usually between $3 and $5 million dollars.
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- United States Geological Survey, “The Marcellus Shale Gas Play Geology, Development, and Water-Resource Impact Mitigation,” accessed January 28, 2014
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- The Denver Post, "Energy companies map Niobrara formation for its oil potential," April 10, 2011