Whether due to the lure of deep-water prospects or the shear excitement to apply new technology, the recently developed multibranch wells are likely to play a crucial role in the future of petroleum exploitation. The challenge is to adjust and even develop reservoir management strategies both suited to and taking advantage of this technology. In effect, a multibranch well provides an underground gathering system. When the design includes downhole separation that provides for the production at the surface of desired fluids with reinjection of unwanted ones, the well incorporates an underground production facility. To achieve these sorts of objectives, the entire system of branches, completions, manifolds, separators, etc., must be in place and operational before the well can begin to produce. The design considerations that would enable this result rely on a modular approach to the problem and provision for contingencies for uncertainties in the reservoir description and in the reliability of the underground system. This paper outlines the issues that must be considered and provides a framework for the well design process.

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