The old standard way for drilling for oil/natural gas was vertical drilling. The depths would go from a few thousand feet to five miles. Vertical drilling means that to gather all that is available in an area, multiple wells would need to be dug. Today, companies have a variety of choices fro drilling. These new choices allow companies to reduce their impact on any specific area including environmental sensitive ecosystems as well as wet lands. New methods also mean smaller holes, less noise and allows for the operation to be completed quicker.
These new methods include horizontal digging. These wells will start with a vertical hole, but then using steerable tools take a turn to go across land verses continuing down. This means that they can gather all of the resources over a wider area from one location. Extended Reach Drilling (http://www.offshore-mag.com/articles/print/volume-74/issue-9/drilling-and-completion/extended-reach-drilling-systems-address-downhole-challenges-p1.html) allows companies to tap natural gas and oil in areas where vertical wells will not work. This method can also be used off shore. It allows for multiple wells from one platform. Complex Path Drilling will have many twists and turns allowing to tap into multiple locations from one well. This method is more cost effective and produces less waste.
Companies are more aware of protecting the environment too. These new methods help by allowing the digging of wells in sensitive areas with much less disturbance to the environment. Also, using an advanced 3-D Seismic equipment to do a survey before digging is important. No more guessing if there is something there to dig for. Clean up is also an important factor in protecting the environment.
Cunningham Energy (https://twitter.com/cunningham_eng?lang=en) based in Charleston West Virginia is a great example of one company that has begun using the horizontal method. The company is responsible for acquiring, exploring and producing oil and gas in Appalachia, West Virginia, Illinois and the Williston Basins. The company is using new technologies and is making responsible decisions to protect our environment.