"Closeology" in Oil and Gas Exploration and Development
Why did early oil explorers drill close to one another? If
you are ready for another analogy, here's one that may explain the
principle of "closeology" in the search for oil and gas.
Let's say you go to a lake for a day of fishing. While
renting a boat you notice that everyone is fishing in one area but
another cove is being ignored. 'Why isn't anybody fishing over there?'
you inquire, to be told that 'There aren't any fish in that part of the
lake. Nobody ever catches anything there.'
You go over to the ignored part of the lake. The first cast
you make into the cove is what in oilfield language would be called an
exploratory or wildcat well. Your first cast catches a fish. That cast
is a discovery well. You cast again and catch nothing. You've drilled a
dry hole. You cast again near where you caught the first fish and catch
another. The second and third casts are termed development or field
wells and even though you've had a dry hole, chances are that further
casting in the vicinity of the first catch will yield fish, or oil. So
you cast again and catch another and another and another.
Soon someone in the group of boats where the "lake experts"
are fishing notices you are catching fish and comes over to fish near
you. Since law and courtesy dictate that he not fish in an area within
your casting range (or within so many acres of your well), his fishing
attempts are offset somewhat from your fishing area and, unless you have
fenced off the entire cove for your own use (usually by leasing the
mineral rights), he starts fishing near you. The newcomer catches fish
also. Another fishing boat comes over in your vicinity then another and
another with everybody catching fish.
Eventually a scout for a commercial fishing company happens
on this cadre of successful fishers. This firm, MAJOR moves in, gets
licenses and fishing rights, launches a fleet of fishing boats and with
their vast resources brings state of the art lures and longer fishing
poles. It soon dominates the fishing grounds. Some of the folks in the
little boats even go to work for MAJOR. A cannery is opened at the
lakeside and a new and bigger bait shop and boat rental opens, a
subsidiary of MAJOR called Fish ARound My bOat Under Terms (FARMOUT).
Today for economic, aesthetic and reservoir conservation
reasons, wells are "spaced" by state regulators. This maximizes
efficiency and production from a reservoir. Michigan's first well
spacing was defined by Public Act 61 of 1939 as a minimum of one well
per 10 acres. Today in Michigan, well spacing may vary from the minimum
40 acres in shallower fields to 640 acres for the deepest natural gas