The United States Department of Energy's Morgantown Energy Technology Center has been investigating the potential of using high angle and horizontal drilling technology to improve gas production from low permeability reservoirs for more than 20 years. A chronology of 45 high angle and horizontal wells have been identified to show the date, type well, type build curve, location, formation and the type of application. The historical well drilling events that have taken place since the first well are place since the first well are discussed to evaluate the progress in developing the technology. Detailed discussion about how the drilling technology developed in the Appalachian Basin for directional drilling and completion was provided. provided. A discussion of the types of applications for high and horizontal drilling in the Appalachian Basin were identified. A summary of four jointly funded DOE/Industry horizontal wells were discussed to illustrate how the air horizontal drilling technology developed and learning curves for drilling cost and feet per day were provided to illustrate the provided to illustrate the improvement in the technology and equipment reliability.
High angle and horizontal drilling in the Appalachian Basin originated in the early 1970's through Federal Government involvement with the development of unconventional gas resources such as Devonian shale and methane from coalbeds. Those early projects involved the utilization of projects involved the utilization of high angle and horizontal drilling methods to improve wellbore contact with underground natural fracture systems for improved recovery of natural gas and the use of horizontal wells to efficiently burn coal in situ to create low quality gas using underground coal gasification methods.