How to Drill With a Sidetrack Bit
By Mitchell Brock
, last updated March 13, 2012
Sidetrack drilling, or directional drilling, is a way gas and oil companies drill around obstacles or at different angles. The sidetrack bit has cutting edges that allow the operator to turn the head of the drilling ram and drill at every angle. The bit has a shorter cone than the typical bits. The shorter cones allow the drilling engineer to steer the sidetrack drill in the desired direction. Using one of these devices takes a lot of experience and training.
Most rigs are like puzzle pieces that need assembly. The workers transport the rig to the site and assemble the components. The tower sits on top of the drilling site and anchors in place. A platform attaches to the rig and over the designated drilling area, where the drill workers will attach the ram and sidetrack bit while drilling.
A pilot hole is dug and logs, or wood planks, are run down the sides of the hole. Cement is then inserted into the sides of the hole between the ground and the planks. An anchor slides down the hole and expands in place to guide the first turn of the sidetrack bit. The anchor is the track that the bit runs along, until it reaches the turning point. The end of the drill has sensors and global positioning devices so the drilling engineer can track the path of the bit on a computer system.
The sidetrack drill attaches to the end of the drilling ram. The ram is a flexible line, similar to a snake used by plumbers to unclog a water line. Coolant and water engages as the sidetrack drill begins to rotate. The deck hands, roustabouts and floor-hands, guide the drilling device onto the anchor track inserted into the pilot hole.
Sidetrack Bit Turning
Once the sidetrack bit reaches an obstacle or depth at which it needs to change angles, the drilling engineer programs the drilling computer to begin turning the sidetrack bit. The cutting edges of the sidetrack bit begin to drill at the angle directed by the drilling engineer. After the sidetrack bit aligns on the desired angle, it starts cutting deeper into the ground until it reaches the gas or oil. The workers remove the sidetrack bit and ram out of the hole, leaving the casing and pumping pipe in place for oil or gas extraction.