Mining Publication: Directionally Controlled Drilling To Horizontally Intercept Selected Strata, Upper Freeport Coalbed, Greene County, Pa.
A 3-inch pilot hole was directionally drilled to intercept the Freeport coalbed horizon horizontally at Mather, Pennsylvania, as part of a Bureau of Mines degasification project. The original concept was to continue the horizontal drilling into the coalbed, after the initial intercept, with a total of three horizontal holes eventually being completed. However, the erratic thickness (0.0 to 4.3 feet) of the Freeport coalbed at Mather was not sufficient to support the horizontal drilling degasification technique, and the site was abandoned after six attempts to locate adequate continuous coal thickness. The drilling of coreholes in the immediate vicinity of proposed well paths to evaluate coal thickness is essential prior to future slant hole operations. Although mechanical failures of the new directional drilling equipment, mud pump and rig breakdowns, directional control problems, and exploratory horizontal drilling in the Freeport horizon more than doubled the anticipated cost of the pilot hole, continuing improvements in directional drilling equipment and techniques should significantly reduce the time and costs of future drilling operations.