When Olympus Energy began work on its Midas 6M well in Plum Borough earlier this year, it didn’t plan on a record-breaking lateral length. But that’s exactly what the Canonsburg-based driller accomplished.
The privately-held Olympus Energy — the 10th-largest natural gas producer in southwestern Pennsylvania, according to the 2020 Pittsburgh Business Times Book of Lists — completed the Midas 6M with a lateral length of 20,060 feet. That’s a record in the Marcellus Shale among completed and producing wells, according to Olympus Energy and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection data.
That’s about 4 miles across.
Lateral lengths are the distance that wells travel horizontally after reaching its depth, allowing wells to become more productive by covering more natural gas reservoirs. Lateral length has jumped in the Marcellus Shale has developed, jumping from 4,649 feet in 2011 to 8,628 in 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That average was about 9,000 feet in 2019, depending on conditions and geology, although a number of drillers regularly pass 15,000 feet laterals.
But that’s usually for companies that have been working the Marcellus Shale for a decade or more, said Tim Dugan, a veteran drilling executive who this year became CEO of Olympus Energy.
“This is our 12th well,” said Dugan. “That’s one of the things that makes this a significant accomplishment.”
Lateral lengths aren’t done just for something to do. Mike Wahl, Olympus’ COO, said the company has spent years planning and preparing for the Midas 6M well in addition to the other wells that have been drilled to make 14 total wells drilled so far. Two other wells at the Midas pad in Plum Borough are over 15,000 feet each. Looking at it another way, the Midas 6M single well takes the place of what would have been at least three wells drilled in the earlier part of the Marcellus Shale development. That’s one well drilled instead of three.
“The amount of surface disturbance is reduced dramatically,” Wahl said. It also takes a lot of trucks off the road and has lower air emissions, Dugan said. Olympus also drew water from a nearby river, reducing the need for many water trucks on the road.
“We spend a lot of time as a company truly understanding our assets and what we have and how best to develop it,” Dugan said. “Mike’s planning and reservoir team works to understand the asset and figures out how to develop it in the most optimal way.”
Olympus also started and finished drilling and completions work at Midas 6M as well as the other two, Midas 2M and Midas 4M, during the Covid-19 pandemic. There were no time delays due to Covid and Olympus spent a lot of time meeting with its contractors ahead of time to get the planning and procedures just right to keep safety at the forefront. Olympus hasn’t had a recordable workplace incident in more than a year
“With all the distractions that came with Covid and everything else, to not have a single incident is a significant accomplishment,” Dugan said.
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