Do You Really Understand How Shale Gas Companies Drill Horizontally?

Posted: April 4, 2019 by oldbrew in Energy, fracking, Shale gas
Tags: , ,

No? Well, join the club and find out from this brief guide for the interested layman.

PA Pundits - International

By Dr. Jay Lehr ~

Admit it, you have no clue. Of course we have all seen the diagrams of Shale Gas Wells with the pipe going vertically down into the ground and then turning a right angle to proceed horizontally where the well will be hydraulically fractured (not Fracked). How is that possible? Can you think of any mechanism underground where pipe could turn ninety degrees and keep the end of the pipe, where the drill bit is spinning 360 degrees, to continue penetrating the rock encountered? Of course you can’t, because it cannot be done. Yet amazingly, surely 90 percent of all folks even remotely interested in the topic of shale gas development do not question the possibility of this impossibility. So read on, this well kept secret will be unveiled.

Hydraulic fracturing flat schematic vector illustration. Fracking process with machinery equipment, drilling rig and gas rich ground…

View original post 677 more words

  1. Bob K says:

    Left an email at their site pointing out an error in the article. It’ll be interesting to see if they correct.

    They said:
    “A steel drill pipe will only bend about three degrees per hundred feet of length. It therefore takes thirty 100 ft lengths to bend 90 degrees, bringing the drill bit to a minimum of 3000 below ground before the drilling is actually done horizontally and hydraulic fracturing can begin.”

    Minimum of 3000 feet below ground is incorrect. 3000 feet of pipe with that curvature will only bring you to a drilling depth of about 1910 feet.

  2. Bob K says:

    Oops! Left a comment not an email. My bad.

  3. Joe Public says:

    Thanks, OB.

  4. ivan says:

    Problems with that diagram.
    1) It appears to show the horizontal drilling to be quite near the surface rather than the 2 plus kilometres down.

    2) The radius of curvature of the drill pipe is much to sharp – with rotating steel pipes the usual practice is to use the nominal pipe diameter in inches multiplied by 100 to give the radius in feet (this is from Us drilling experience).

    Other than that the article is reasonable if rather short.

  5. stpaulchuck says:

    nice article (please read it all).

    There have been several BS reports of methane from fracking (sorry, I will continue to use that word). In every case it has been debunked but the media jerks won’t tell the general public that. Scare stories sell TV time.

  6. oldbrew says:

    ivan – the diagram can’t be done to scale or it would be far too big, unless the surface items were just dots.

    We know they’re drilling much deeper than twice the length of the truck for example 🙂
    Not sure why there are pyramids in the background, must be artistic licence.

  7. TonyfromOz says:

    Our site (PA Pundits International) copied this article across from the originating site, CFACT (link as I thought it was quite interesting in its entirety. Okay, I didn’t do the math, but I feel that the whole article was of interest.

    The author was Dr. Jay Lehr, and his bio was of interest, as it looks like he is ‘full bottle’ on this subject. His bio is as follows.

    Dr Jay Lehr contributes posts at the CFACT site. Jay Lehr is a senior policy analyst at CFACT, and he graduated from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering. He went on to receive the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers. He is the author of numerous books, articles and scholarly papers.


  8. Bob K says:


    I only did the calculation after noting 3000 feet of pipe can’t have a 3000 foot minimum depth once you curve the pipe 90 degrees. Seemed like a large discrepancy. That is why I commented.

    If anyone is interested in viewing it, one of the comments at your cfact link presents a good 6 min video of the entire procedure. They drill straight down until they are sure they are well below the bottom of the water table before starting the curvature of the pipe. Seems like a very safe procedure.

  9. Curious George says:

    “Steel pipe could be guided from a vertical plane to a horizontal plane using a flexible drill bit controlled by an internal Global Positioning System.”

    Dr. Jay Lehr seems rather gullible. He objects to schematic diagrams. They are not always drawn to scale.

  10. Russell Cook (@QuestionAGW) says:

    @Bob K: I’d suggest directing your particular points straight to the people at CFACT, who have much more of a direct access to Jay Lehr, and maybe his piece can be corrected there.

    Btw, as a matter of pure trivia, over at CFACT’s version of the article, the first “Dave James” commenter in the comment section there happens to be one of the comment stalkers of me which I detailed at one of my older blog posts: . But that’s a whole other story.

  11. Bob K says:

    Russell Cook,

    Took your advice and just sent CFACT an email.

  12. pochas94 says:

    This is not that simple. It involves downhole mud motors driving special bits to steer the well and spooky telemetry to let the drillers know where the bit is and what is going on. Not for amateurs.