American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc.

Discussion of this paper is invited. Three copies of any discussion should be sent to the Society of Petroleum Engineers office. Such discussion may be presented at the above meeting and, with the paper, may be considered for publication in one of the two SPE magazines.


This paper considers deep exploratory drilling from inception through casing design, programming, drilling operations, and programming, drilling operations, and evaluation In each area, the major technical and operational pitfalls that an operator can expect to encounter are discussed along with appropriate recommendations or considerations. Although there is a specific occasional reference to Great Basins - Tenneco 31X-10, Kern County, Calif. (T.D. 21,640 ft, California's deepest) and the basic experience is gleaned from California operations, the majority of recommendations and considerations offered would have application wherever a deep, exploratory well is proposed.


Deep drilling operations below 15,000 ft continue to capture the majority of drilling publicity. This voluminous amount of 15,000+ publicity. This voluminous amount of 15,000+ literature deals, for the most part, with the general over-all success of a specific project. Rarely are the everyday field operational and specific technical pitfalls that an operator can encounter in venturing into a project ever delineated. It is the author's opinion that this broad-based successful trending literature has lauded many persons in the petroleum industry into believing that, since deep drilling has extended to the 31,441-ft depth, major technical and operational pitfalls to this depth have been solved; such is not the case, as those in both the design and direct 24-hour field management responsibility level can attest to. Daily, wells projected to 15,000 ft + continue to unsuccessfully reach their projected total depths and/or evaluate their "shows." It is the goal of this paper to delineate the everyday operational and technical pitfalls that an operator can encounter in deep drilling, regardless of their area of operation. By highlighting still existing technical and operational limitations, and suggesting certain operational and technical considerations, the expectation is that other operators will be able to minimize their problems, likewise their future expense, with the ultimate result being more wells to solve the problems associated with deep 15,000+ ft wells, and more reserves for an energy-short nation.

Information and Data Search

Successful deep exploratory drilling begins in the office of the drilling engineer months prior to spudding. prior to spudding.

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