Finally! The well has been drilled, it has been fracked, it has been tested, and it is ready to produce. The first thing you will notice will be the drill pad site is shrinking and that above ground storage tanks have been installed. The drill rig will have been removed to be replaced by a series of pipes connected to a submersible pump (no more ugly pumper units, especially if you are in a urbanized area).
This configuration of pipes is called a Christmas Tree it connects the
well to a series of above ground storage tanks that are manifolded together to collect the production flow. In most cases, there will be a salt water disposal tank that will store the brine water solution natural to the producing formation.
If the oil field is prolific, it may be cost effective to for the operating company to install a pipeline which delivers the product to the refinery, instead of the multitudes of tanker trucks that carry the oil to market. In the beginning stages of oil field development however, all of the oil will be carried to market via tanker truck. The trucks will come and load on a frequency that is synchronous with the well’s production to take the crude oil to market, and water waste away to either recycling or regulated disposal.
As mentioned earlier the drill pad site has been reduced and is beginning to be reclaimed, it will be reseeded to as close to native species as possible and the footprint will be minimized. For a look at what a reclaimed and producing horizontal drilling pad looks like we only need look at a site from the Bakken formation in the Williston basin of North Dakota to see an example.
Enhanced Oil Recovery Techniques
It is most likely that during the lifetime of the well, that it will undergo some form of reservoir stimulation technique that will be used to increase production, this may be a another round of hydrofracking (yes it is hard to imagine, but the reservoir will experience its fractures closing as water and oil move through and calcium deposits clog the pathways much like your bathroom sink) or perhaps the well may need to be stimulated with a water injection well to move oil in the far reaches of the formation towards the well bore. It is most likely both will be necessary to ensure total recovery of as much of the oil possible. Even with all this horizonal drilling technology, hyrofracturing and enhanced oil recovery methods, even the best operators only recover up to 25 percent of the exising oil in the producing unit. Further technology enhancements may improve this figure in the future.