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01.18.18 4:02 ET
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Selecting a well location

In addition to geological and geophysical information, Southwestern Energy evaluates the geographical and topographical attributes of each site to determine the best location for a well pad. In most cases, technology allows us to drill multiple wells on a single well pad, which helps reduce the total number of pads needed for operations and decrease the surface footprint. We always work with the landowner to place the well pad and access roads to balance our operational requirements with their needs. As our company’s operations have become more focused on tight gas and other unconventional resources, horizontal drilling has become the normal drilling process. In the Fayetteville Shale, we use a two-phase horizontal drilling process which includes robust safety features designed to promote safe and responsible development of our natural resources.

Drilling phase one

A relatively small surface rig uses air to drill the shallower part of the well. Surface casing is set and cemented to seal off shallow, fresh water from the wellbore and to protect the wellbore from collapse. Once surface casing has been set and cemented, the surface rig drills the vertical section of the well.

Drilling phase two

A larger rig is brought in to drill the turning section and lateral portions of the well. State-of-the-art technology allows us to steer the drill bit thousands of feet horizontally. As the well is being drilled, a mixture of water and additives, called mud, is pumped into the hole to cool the drilling assembly and move the rock cuttings to the surface. When the targeted distance is reached, production casing is set and cemented. At this point, drilling operations end, the drilling rig is moved and the well is ready for completion.