Horizontal drilling was rarely used in the Permian Basin through the 1980s but advancements in the technology have sent the region’s oil and gas fortunes soaring.
“All of us who have been here a long time have seen a lot of things come and go,” said Mike Party, president and owner of Beryl Oil and Gas, discussing the evolution of horizontal drilling with members of the Midland chapter, Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists.
In 1985 there were U-Haul trailers lined up to take Midlanders away from the city, he said. Today, those U-Hauls are lined up to bring people into Midland, he said.
“Today, everyone wants to be here. The Permian Basin is the hottest thing going,” he said.
And the advent of horizontal drilling technology, combined with similar advances in hydraulic fracturing, have improved Permian Basin output, Party said.
Initially, Permian Basin operators were focused on field development through production and water injection, with many drilling small zones or tying multiple zones together to boost production, he said.
The first horizontal well was drilled in the Dean formation in 1987, followed by the first horizontal San Andres well in the Yates field. Parker and Parsley, predecessor of Pioneer Natural Resources, drilled the first horizontal Spraberry well in Midland County in 1988. The first horizontal Wolfcamp wasn’t drilled until that same year.
It wasn’t until 2011 that horizontal drilling in the Bone Spring and Wolfcamp began to take off, as companies began to shift from drilling Wolfberry wells, Party said.
While it was the horizontal Third Bone Spring wells that began the trend, Party said horizonal Wolfcamp drilling “really shined a light. It was a natural progression from the Bone Spring to the Wolfcamp, and it spread like crazy.”
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