As a young vertical driller, I believed that vertical drilling and horizontal drilling were radically different. I had a grasp of basic drilling fundamentals; I could never drill a horizontal hole. My internship with Baroid IDP made me realize that vertical and horizontal drilling, like most facets of drilling, share the same fundamentals. Both types of drilling share the same goal: to create a temporary pathway to extract resources or install product. Once a driller realizes that Mother Nature and physics are always working against the borehole, he can be successful. Although these fundamentals start the same, completing the hole is when the major differences occur. For a simple comparison in this article, I will compare a typical 400-foot vertical borehole and a 400-foot horizontal borehole with no major drilling issues.
The start of any borehole requires proper planning, preparation and patience. Regardless of vertical or horizontal, the driller must understand the proper steps it will take to complete the borehole. The potential for inadvertent returns or fracking out at the surface in most situations has to do with the formation density. Top soil has a soft density with much porosity, allowing fluid to push through it fairly quickly. On the other end of the spectrum, rock can be hard to break and frack outs can occur while attempting initial penetration.