Back in 2014 when we were too busy to think much about what we were doing and if we were doing it right, the industry drilled a lot of horizontal wells in the US land market that had lateral legs of about 5000’ or so. North Dakota had extended reach horizontal wells of 10,000’, but rarely were these ultra long wells found anywhere else.
To drill a really long lateral, the oil company had to do a LOT of legwork upfront to assemble the acreage and leases, commit enormous funds to both drill and complete these really long laterals, and take on the massive technical risk of doing the project. In 2014 we were generally too busy to do all that time-consuming upfront work, so only about 28% of the horizontal wells drilled in the US were the big, expensive, extended reach wells.
But the collapse of the industry in 2015 (and again in 2016) freed up a lot of time -- time to do the lease acquisition and time to do the engineering that would allow for maximum reservoir exposure of a wellbore. As the chart below indicates, the industry switched over to drilling very long horizontal wellbores and backed away from the shorter laterals:
The Mix Between Short Laterals and Very Long Laterals