Universal Transverse Mercator Application in Directional Drilling

Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) is one of the commonly used map projection methods in directional drilling. In UTM, the world is divided up into 60 zones between 84° North and 80° South and East-West from 180 degrees longitude. Then the Earth is flattened with the Zone 1 starting at 180 E-W longitude. Since the earth is divided into 60 zone so each zone has 6 degree wide. Figure 1 illustrates the concept of UTM and Figure 2 shows the UTM grid. This method will not cover the polar region.

Figure 1 - Universal Transverse Mercator Diagram

Figure 1 – Universal Transverse Mercator Diagram

Figure 2 - The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid

Figure 2 – The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid

Zones are numbers from 1 to 60 and the zone 31 has 0 degree meridian (Greenwich, England) on the left and 6 degree East on the right (Figure 3). Each one in UTM is divided into grid sections which cover 8 degrees of latitude and the system uses letters from C to X, excluding I and O.

Figure 3 - UTM zone 31

Figure 3 – UTM zone 31

UTM Important Information

  • UTM divides the Earth into 60 zones and each zone has 3 degrees with its zone number as described earlier
  • Easting – It is the distance in meters from a central meridian line. The central meridian line is defined as 500,000 m. When the location is located to the East of the central meridian line, the final distance is equal to 500,000 m plus distance to the East. On the other hand, when the location is situated on the West of the central meridian line, the final distance equates to 500,000 m minus distance to the West. Easting range in value from approximately 200,000 m to 800,000 m.
  • Northing – It is the distance to the North or the South. Each zone in UTM system divides Northing into Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere.
  • Northern Hemisphere – 0 meters is defined at the equator and a value increases when moving towards the North.
  • Southern Hemisphere – 10,000,000 meters is defined at the equator and a value decreases when moving towards the South.

Figure 4 illustrates some of important points in each zone of UTM.

Figure 4 - Diagram of Each Zone of UTM

Figure 4 – Diagram of Each Zone of UTM

Example of UTM

The rig is located in UTM 30N. The location coordination is 400,000 E and 6,900,000 N.

The rig is located at 100,000 m West of the central meridian (500,000 – 100,000) and 6,900,000 m North of the equator. This can be illustrated into the UTM shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5 - Rig Location in UTM

Figure 5 – Rig Location in UTM

 Full Details about UTM can be seen from this video.

References

Adam Bourgoyne, 2014. Directional Drilling and Deviation Control: Definitions and Reasons for Directional Drilling. 1st Edition.

French Oil & Gas Industry Association, 1990. Directional Drilling and Deviation Control. Edition. Technip Editions.

Tom Inglis, 1988. Directional Drilling (Petroleum Engineering and Development Studies) (v. 2). 1987 Edition. Springer.

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