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Multi-Lateral Drilling  

Alexander Grigoryan is recognized for his success in drilling the world’s first multilateral well, the 66/45 well in Bashkortostan, Russia in 1953. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1914, he worked as a driller’s assistant in the Azerbaijani oil fields. After acquiring valuable field experience, he graduated as a petroleum engineer from the Azerbaijan Industrial Institute in 1939. In 1941, Grigoryan drilled one of the world’s first horizontal wells, the Baku 1385. He drilled the well without a whipstock, using a hydraulic mud motor to drill both vertical and horizontal sections. By keeping the borehole in the producing zone longer, he was able to expose a greater section for completion, significantly increasing production. Grigoryan was promoted to department head at the prestigious All-Union Scientific Research Institute for Drilling Technology, where he continued his innovations, developing new equipment to improve his directional drilling technique. In 1953, Grigoryan was able to test his theory in the Bashkira Field in Southern Russia. He used a turbodrill to drill Well 66/45 to tap a prolific carbonate reef reservoir. He drilled by touch, without whipstocks or cement bridges, and without instrumentation of any kind. Once he reached the pay zone, Grigoryan drilled nine lateral wells of varying measured depths, extending in all directions like the roots of a tree. When the 66/45, with its nine roots, was put on production, compared to other wells in the field it produced 17 times more oil –755 b/d–but only cost 1.5 times more than a conventionally drilled single branch well.

Spurred by this success, the Russian oil industry drilled more than 100 multilateral wells through 1980–30 of these drilled by Grigoryan himself. This pioneering work has earned him the title, “Father of Multilateral Technology.”

By proving it could be accomplished, Grigoryan inspired the multilateral drillers of the 1990s and the technique is now widely accepted. Arguably, the exploitation of deepwater offshore plays would not have been economical without this technology.

Alexander Grigoryan immigrated to the United States in the 1980s and became an American citizen, where he continues to practice Petroleum Engineering today. 

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following individual who contributed to the search for oil and gas: 

Alexander M. Grigoryan


2011 Call for Nominations
2011 Industry Pioneer Nomination Form 
2011 Technology Pioneer Nomination Form

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