Typically the evidence of a technological advancement is visibly apparent. However, occasionally the benefit is obscured from view.
So it is with horizontal drilling, which Devon employs exclusively while exploring for natural gas in shale formations. Whereas traditional, vertical wells require a separate pad for each well, Devon can drill several wells from a single location, thanks to horizontal drilling.
This practice of placing several wells on one pad benefits stakeholders and the company in numerous ways:
· Placing several wells on one site reduces the company’s impact on developable land. This is especially important in populated areas. Well pads generally are similar in size whether they contain one wellhead or a half-dozen, so placing multiple wells on the same pad can dramatically minimize surface disturbance.
· This process further reduces surface disturbance by eliminating the need for additional lease roads. This, in turn, decreases the company’s road construction costs.
· Multi-well pads are far more efficient, because once a well is drilled, the rig moves only 20 feet or so to drill the next one. This also reduces truck traffic, which benefits our neighbors.
· In rural areas, Devon can be more flexible about where to place its wells. This gives landowners more input on both the placement of the wells and the construction of the road leading to those wells.
· Within an incorporated area, a multi-well pad reduces the uncertainty involved with the permit process. Most cities and towns require a permit for each new well. If five wells are to be placed on the same pad, the chances are greater that each of those five permits will be approved.
· Devon can more efficiently produce natural gas from a chosen reservoir by drilling horizontal wells in close proximity to each other.
· Devon often can reduce the number of storage tanks and liquid separators by consolidating the operations of several wells onto one pad. This further decreases the company’s surface disturbance while reducing operating expenses.
· Multi-well pads allow Devon’s lease operators to better manage the wells assigned to them while cutting their driving time.
The results of multi-well pads are most clearly evident in the Barnett Shale area of north Texas, where Devon is the largest producer. One existing pad contains 11 wells. Most recently, Devon drilled 36 wells on one pad and 21 on another.
Three well pads at Willow Springs Golf Course, 20 miles northwest of downtown Fort Worth, illustrate Devon’s partnership with landowners and developers in the Barnett. Devon drilled its first wells at the course in 2001. In 2009, the company returned to drill additional wells and discussed the possibility of creating a pond to provide the water needed for hydraulic fracturing, an essential step for well completions. The golf course’s owners provided a diagram showing their preferred design and location for the pond. Obliging the course’s wishes, Devon built a pond near the third tee box. That pond now enhances the course for golfers.
Additionally, Devon worked with the course’s owner to drill wells in “out of bounds” areas. This minimizes disruption to the course and its golfers. The three well pads at Willow Springs contain a total of eight wells.
This sort of collaboration has proven beneficial not only for Devon and landowners, but also for nearby residents and the communities where the company operates.