unlocking innovation in the U.K.

Horizontal drilling helps us reach resources that would otherwise be too uneconomic or complex to pursue. The U.K.’s Captain Field languished after its discovery in 1977 because its shallow reservoir consisted of loose, unconsolidated sand that would have required about 300 wells to produce. Eventually, advances in horizontal drilling provided the technology that enabled us to unlock that oil. In 1995, we needed just seven extended horizontal wells in an environment that was like manipulating a piece of string from a mile away in the dark. But it worked, as we produced oil from a horizontal section more than 5,000 feet long — a North Sea record at the time.

In 1997, 20 years after its discovery, Captain achieved first oil, thanks to developments in horizontal drilling and downhole pumps in the well bores. And it has been producing ever since with help from further horizontal drilling, which we’ve brought back to increase production by accessing untapped reserves. Our experience with horizontal drilling in Captain is paying off in other locations, such as Brazil’s Frade Field.

Updated: July 2015