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What Is a Development Well?

B. Turner
B. Turner

A development well is a borehole created in a known oil-bearing region. These wells may be located on land or offshore, and are generally created in areas that have been previously tested for oil or natural gas. A development well may serve as a secondary or supplementary well to a larger one nearby, allowing workers to withdraw a greater quantity of oil at a rapid pace. They may also be used to reach oil supplies not accessible by other local wells. Finally, a development well may simply be used in a exploratory manner, allowing workers to find the best spot to set up more extensive drilling operations.

The process of creating a development well begins when crews drill a preliminary test hole that extends deep below the earth. Next, they install a pipe or casing to support the walls of the bore as drilling continues. A hydraulic drill bit is extended down into the bore hole, with drilling fluid used to remove excess rock cuttings and bring them back to the surface. Once this portion of the well has been established, workers perform a series of tests to determine oil production rates in the area. High rates may encourage them to expand the well, while low production rates may cause crews to move the development well to another location.

Scientist with beakers
Scientist with beakers

Generally, development wells are centered around an existing oil well. They may be used as infill wells between heavily producing wells, or may be used to collect oil found on the outskirts of a known oil-bearing site. Others are used to confirm the results of preliminary soil tests that may indicate the presence of oil or gas in an area.

One of the primary functions of a development well is to help crews determine the best spot to set up more extensive well operations. These preliminary wells help workers find the best drilling elevation, and help them establish a well on exactly the right spot to maximize production. It also alerts workers to potential problems with access, or other issues associated with a potential drilling site.

The creation of a development well can provide many benefits to oil drilling companies. It helps to reduce waste associated with drilling in a spot that may not provide adequate oil supplies. It also makes it easier for workers to extract all the oil from a site without installing full-blown oil rigs or derricks at all drilling locations. Finally, these wells can serve as a framework for more extensive well operations at a later date if the preliminary investigation finds that the well contains a large volume of oil.

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      Scientist with beakers