We had faith in technology
We installed horizontal sections at the bottom of high-angle wells to reach more distant reserves from a single platform. The first tests in the North Sea Alwyn field in 1988 and 1989 produced two record-setting wells in terms of offset and angle, N28 and N29. They were successfully drilled to a length of more than 7,000 meters without horizontal sections. The technology also proved itself in the early 1990s in the Paris Basin in the Montmirail field. This was at the same time as the first Rospo Mare developments. I knew the Elf Aquitaine engineers who were working on horizontal drilling. The whole oil and gas community was keeping a close eye on their results. It was a pioneering time. We were a small band of engineers on the lookout for innovations. We had faith in technology.
Then came Argentina. The first wells there were highly deflected and particularly productive. They were drilled from two offshore platforms.
The question quickly arose as to how we could economically tap the rest of the reserves, scattered about at a distance of more than 7 kilometers from the shore. Building more offshore platforms would have been too costly, so we decided to go back to ERD technology, this time from three onshore sites. The results were encouraging. Each horizontal well took us a little farther, until in 1999 we set the record: 11,184 meters for the Cullen Norte No. 1 well. In 2013, that well still boasted the world’s fifth-longest offset.
Three team members played funda-mental roles in the Tierra del Fuego project. Thierry Delahaye led engineering efforts from 1993 to 1996, when he took over for me. Herbert Lescanne was my very able second during the offshore campaign for the first three wells (1994-1996). Matthieu Naegel was a part of the project from the start of work on the drilling rig in 1995, and by 1999 was working closely alongside me. With-out him, we might not have made it!
Extract from the book Horizontal Drilling, the story of an industrial revolution (2016).
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