Vertical drilling allows an operator to contact approximately 100 feet of rock, straight down into a formation, which often limits the potential recovery of oil or gas which would flow into that length of pipe.
Horizontal drilling, or essentially drilling sideways, is a true testament to engineering and scientific innovation. This extended reach technology enables XTO to develop long-reach wells that can extend horizontally for miles underground. Through the use of horizontal drilling, multiple wells can be drilled from the same surface location and can develop a large area of the shale gas resource, while using less land at the surface. This means higher recovery rates, maximizing returns from each well, and limiting the need to drill many vertical wells to access the same resource.
The technology is so advanced that drillers today can hit a target with precision, and use sensors to detect promising rock intervals within the formation, moving the drill string up or down or left or right.