Drilling several branches into a reservoir from a main wellbore (multi-lateral/multi-branch wells) offers potential benefits in terms of improving drainage, productivity and well economics. This technique has become increasingly popular since the 1990's to the extent that multi-lateral/multi-branch well technology has now become one of the most important innovations within the oil industry.

In the paper, the authors review and summarize multi-lateral/multi-branch wells as a development option for oil and gas fields. The process of screening multi-lateral/multi-branch wells applications is discussed, identifying not only the potential benefits ofeconomics and efficient access to reserves, but also the risk associated with both the reservoir application and mechanical systems. Emphasis is placed on providing guidelines for each stage of this evaluation and design processes for these wells, incorporating a multi-disciplinary understanding of the reservoir geology, reservoir dynamics, completion design and operational management of the well. The importance of contingency planning in the process is highlighted, as a means of risk management.

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