Some Utica Drillers Go Back to Wider Well Spacing – New Trend?

HorizontalWellMDN spotted a fascinating story in NGI’s Shale Daily publication about what may be a new trend developing in the Utica Shale. It all concerns interlateral well spacing. What the heck is that? When you drill a shale well, like a Utica well, you can drill down from a single location (i.e. well pad) multiple times and when you turn the drill bit horizontally, you drill an entirely new well. So each well pad contains, typically, anywhere from 2-12 underground wells. Each horizontal well underground is called a lateral. When you drill a lateral, you frack it–using small explosive charges to crack the rock apart near the lateral, injecting water with sand into the cracks. The water drains out, the sand remains “propping open” the cracks to allow natural gas (or oil, or NGLs) to drain out of the cracks, into the well and up the borehole to the surface. In the past few years most drillers have found putting the laterals about 750 feet apart keeps them far enough apart that the cracks from one well don’t interfere with the cracks from another well (see image below). Ideally you want the laterals to be far enough away that they don’t drain any gas from the next lateral–but close enough that you’re not leaving undrained rock in between. That distance in the Marcellus/Utica seems to be around 750 feet. But Rice Energy and Gulfport Energy, two major players in the Utica, are moving back to 1,000 foot spacing between their laterals. Why?…

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