The team in the San Juan Basin laterally drilled 8,370 feet in 24 hours

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FARMINGTON — Members of the San Juan Basin team for WPX Energy are celebrating a new company record and possible world record for drilling nearly 8,400 feet on a lateral drill in 24 hours on an oil well near Nageezi.

The announcement was made on a post on WPX Energy's Facebook page on Aug. 22, stating the company believed the team set a world record by drilling 8,370 feet on a lateral section of the 745H oil well within 24 hours between Aug. 14 and 15.

Lateral drilling allows companies to drill into areas not located directly beneath a well to tap into oil and natural gas resources.

The company describes the accomplishment as new company record and a possible world record, according to WPX spokesman Kelly Swan. There is no official system for tracking such records.

The accomplishment took place at a well pad located about three miles southeast of the Nageezi Post Office along U.S. Highway 550, according to Andrew Brunk. He is the drilling superintendent operating out of the Aztec office.

"I'm very proud of our team we have," Brunk said. "It's an amazing feat. We're definitely excited to reach that goal."

A team from Cyclone Drilling, Inc. based in Gillette, Wyoming, was contracted by WPX Energy to conduct the drilling.

They worked alongside contractors from Scientific Drilling International and Field Geo Services Inc., both based in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Kasmira Workman, the lead of the WPX geosteering team, was involved in the project and helped the team achieve this new company record.

She worked with the contractors, keeping the drill bit in a very specific target where the team believed the rock was most productive, to get the most oil.

There were 22 people working on the Cyclone #32 rig when the record was broken. The previous record for the most lateral drilling within 24 hours in WPX's history was set in May with 6,550 feet drilled.

Typically, teams aim to drill a mile per day, according to Brunk. He said WPX aims to drill more than 5,000 feet in the first 24 hours.

"That's a lot of work. This is a phenomenal feat," Brunk said.

WXP Energy is developing the mineral rights on a well pad with Navajo allottees.

Brunk believes the team could set the new company record because everything went according to their plan in the drilling of the well.

He stated there were no equipment failures during the drilling and equipment operated at max efficiency.

"The whole operation just clicked to achieve that goal," Brunk said.

There are several lessons that could be learned from the team drilling 8,370 feet in 24 hours, Swan said.

"When you have an outcome like this, you're always looking, 'How can we replicate this,'" Swan said.

Swan said since oil is operating in a low-price commodity environment with oil trading around $45 to $50 a barrel, the team's feat could help other teams operate more efficiently and still make a profit.

For Brunk, he believes there is a chance another team in WPX could break the record.

"As the industry as a whole, once we set a goal and we reach that goal, we don't feel we have maxed out our ability to achieve greater feats than this one," Brunk said.

The work on the oil well is scheduled to be completed in the next month so hydraulic fracturing can begin.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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