dry hole

1. n. [Drilling]
A wellbore that has not encountered hydrocarbons in economically producible quantities. Most wells contain salt water in some zones. In addition, the wellbore usually encounters small amounts of crude oil and natural gas. Whether the well is a "duster" depends on many factors of the economic equation, including proximity to transport and processing infrastructures, local market conditions, expected completion costs, tax and investment recovery conditions of the jurisdiction and projected oil and gas prices during the productive life of the well.