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What is Jet Drilling?

H. Terry
H. Terry

The term "jet drilling" can describe the employment of a powerful directed stream of water or fire in cutting or drilling. It also can be applied to another, distinct, process: the creation of new drainage channels in wells. Each kind of jet drilling has become increasingly common.

Water jet drilling, or water jet cutting, is when water is forced in a stream through an extremely narrow nozzle and shot at its target with enough speed and pressure to cut metal. To aid in the cutting, abrasive substances sometimes might be mixed in with the water. This type of drilling is used in shops as an alternative to using metal drill bits, which can overheat or make dull cuts when worn. The term "water jet drilling" also can refer to a procedure better known as wash boring, wherein a chopping bit first drills into the earth and then soil samples are brought up by flooding the hole with water. In hydro jet drilling, water is superheated and used to cut through rock.


Another form of drilling that employs heat is flame jet drilling. This method utilizes a hydrogen flame. As with water jet drilling, an advantage of this method is that the equipment itself does not make contact with the surface being drilled and thus does not wear out easily. Unlike a water jet, however, a flame jet can cut very deeply into solid rock. This technology, along with its ability to cut deeper and deeper into the earth's surface, has continued to advance steadily.

The term "jet drilling" not only refers to the use of fire or water in drilling, it also is the name given to the process of deflecting a drill string in a new direction in oil and gas well enhancement. Lateral and radial jet drilling is aimed at finding new paths to reach these resources and extract them. This is done by having new boring holes "jet out" laterally and/or in a radius from the original. Many jet drill well services offer their own methods of jet drilling to improve the production of preexisting wells.

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