Pre-Drilling & Drilling
Focus on Safety From the Beginning of the Life of the Well
Before we ever begin drilling, our geologists perform a geological assessment of the site to identify faults, abandoned mines and old wells and to assess the overall geological soundness of our drilling location. Our geologists weigh all available facts and attempt to choose a location, when feasible, where we can drill multiple laterals off of one pad so that we can minimize surface impact to the surrounding environment, including disruption to trees and wildlife.
Once well locations are identified, we generally meet with the surface owners to discuss the placement of well sites and, where possible, we enter into agreements with the surface owners to compensate them and provide individualized guidelines on our surface use.
In every state where we operate, we use a certified third party environmental laboratory to collect and analyze water samples from a radius of at least 1,500 feet around the well location so that we can determine if contaminants are present prior to our commencing any activities on the land. We share these water-testing results with landowners.
Studies conducted by respected environmental authorities, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ground Water Protection Counsel and The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, have concluded that fracking is safe and does not pose a threat to human health and poses little to no risk to contamination of underground sources of drinking water.
Drilling The Well
The oil and gas we explore for is separated from groundwater by thousands of feet of impermeable rock. Fracking of the well takes place at a considerable distance, many times at a distance as deep as the Grand Canyon, below any drinking water aquifers. Even so, we take great efforts to protect the environment and our drinking water supplies from all aspects of our operations, including fracking. Each of our wells is designed to protect groundwater for the life of the well, which typically spans a number of decades.
Once drilling starts, we design and construct our wellbores soundly. We meet or exceed state law requirements in the design, drilling and completion of our wellbores. To isolate fresh water from the production stream:
- We drill our wells with a minimum of two barrier layers of steel casing with cement behind one of those steel barriers; and
- We routinely run cement to the surface to isolate the wellbore from potable groundwater.
After drilling is completed and the well is ready to be fracked, we perform the following safety measures:
- We pressure test the wellbore for integrity to make sure that no fluid can escape through the protective casing and cement system;
- We install a pressure relief system, which is tested and monitored throughout fracking operations, to monitor the appropriate pressures so that any breach or weakness in the casing would be discovered immediately;
- In the rare event that we encounter abnormal pressure, the pressure relief valve enables the pressure to be dissipated on the surface;
- We routinely run cement bond logs, an acoustic testing method, to provide further confidence in the strength and integrity of the cement casing strings;
- In addition, we recycle oil-based mud and cuttings which reduces landfill volumes and costs, truck hauling, waste disposal and consumption; and
- Where feasible, we extract diesel used during drilling operations and reuse it.