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Dry hole

A dry hole is used to describe an exploratory or development well that has not yielded a significant amount of oil and gas.

How it’s important to us

Drilling a well that ends up not being fruitful (no commercial value) can considerably impact the return on capital invested. However, a dry hole doesn’t necessarily mean failure. They are considered as operational risks (almost inevitable) and it remains crucial to E&P companies to have a comprehensive set of strategies to mitigate these risks such as investment diversification, the use of latest drilling technology, etc.

These are the most frequent causes of dry holes:

  • The absence of trap in the reservoir rock: This may be due to (i) miscorrelation of stratigraphy at the sub/surface mapping, (ii) mistakes in surveying the elevation the derrick floor, (iii) misinterpretation of the topographic relief.
  • The absence of a reservoir rock: the well reservoir may have faulted-out, lost its permeability, or not been reached.
  • The absence of oil or gas in the trap: the reservoir rock may have been eroded and the oil and gas slipped away or due to unfavorable conditions (i.e.: abundant organic materials), oil and gas have not been formed in commercial quantities.
  • A lateral shift of the trap with depth.
  • A deflection of the test well or
  • A failure to recognize the pool during drilling: at a certain depth, the drilling mud makes it difficult to detect oil and gas formation

Nate Richards
Nate has over 18 years of software engineering and consulting experience. He founded Entrance in 2003. Nate is the past President of the Board of LifeHouse Houston, a Christ-centered maternity home ministry, and is past Executive committee member and Treasurer of Houston Achievement Place, a foster care and social skills training non-profit organization.
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