Slimhole drilling in one form or another has been used by the mining and construction industry, and the oil and gas industry since the 1940's. Drilling a slimhole borehole is the standard way of drilling for the mining and construction industry. Whereas, the oil and gas industries, in spite of its potential major cost savings, rarely drilled slimhole wells; when they did it, was only because there was no other choice. However, since the late 1980's, the oil and gas industry has been experimenting on a continuous basis with the use of slimhole drilling technology to reduce drilling costs and improve exploration results.
The first part of the paper presents the evolution of slimhole drilling since 1989 from the oil and gas industry point of view. The next section of the paper covers the state of the art of slimhole detailing its technical accomplishments and remaning challenges.
The last part of the paper presents the slimhole drilling system and dynamics that are taking place. From this systems analysis, a view of the future of slimhole drilling is possible. Can slimhole drilling technology drastically reduce cost? Improve exploration? Be used offshore? Can the contracting, service, and manufacturing industries respond and provide slimhole drilling technologies? Will companies be able to change their thinking? All these questions will be discussed in this paper.