Delivered March 21st, 2020. Contributors: Estel M. and
Fracking Process: Drilling
The drilling process for a fracking well installation consists of drilling a surface hole, introduction of surface casing and cementing, vertical and horizontal drilling, and introduction of production casing. These and other findings are outlined below and encoded in Sheet 3, column A, row 27 of the attached spreadsheet.
Fracking Well Drilling Process
Drilling begins after the rig site for the well fracking installation has been completed.
Drilling rigs are brought to the location and assembled (around 20-30 truckloads) to begin the process.
According to CRED.org, horizontal drilling is the best way to minimize land disturbance from a well fracking installation as it uses only one drill pad for multiple wells instead of different pads for each.
Horizontal drilling also represented 83% of total linear footage drilled.
Fracking Process: After Production
Flaring as part of the after-production process of well fracking involves controlled combustion of natural gas. Installation of wellheads and use of condensate storage tanks are also part of the after-production process. These and other findings are outlined below and encoded in Sheet 3, column A, rows 41 to 43 of the attached spreadsheet.
Fracking waste can be disposed of or managed through use of pits, tanks, land application, and other methods including offsite landfills, treatment facilities, and recycling. These and other findings are outlined below and encoded in Sheet 3, column A, row 53 to 58 of the attached spreadsheet.
Drilling operations and equipment in a well fracking installation comprises 15% of total costs while well casing and cementing make up 11% of total costs. These and other findings are outlined below and encoded in Sheet 1, column B, rows 16-20 of the attached spreadsheet.
1. The process begins by drilling to the bottom of a fresh water aquifer"
"2. The drill is then retracted and pulls the loose rocks and sediment to the surface to be discarded (i.e., drilling muds)."
"3. Surface casing (steel piping) is inserted into the bore hole to protect freshwater aquifers by creating a physical barrier between the aquifer and drilling materials. This casing also serves as a foundation for the blowout preventer – a safety device that connects the rig to the wellbore. Cement is then pumped through the casing and out through the opening at the bottom of the casing."
"4. Drilling continues vertically, creating a well approximately 6,000 feet (~1,828 m) deep. The depth of the well will vary by region and formation. In the Marcellus Shale the well is then drilled horizontally an average of 10,000 more feet (~3,048 meters)."
"5. When the target length is achieved, “production casing” is inserted throughout the length of the wellbore."
"6. The drilling process is now complete and well stimulation can begin."
"As the well is drilled deeper, additional casing is installed to isolate the formation(s) from which oil or natural gas is to be produced, further protecting groundwater from the producing formations in the well. Numerous protective measures are in place at well sites, including liners under well pads, rubber composite mats under rigs, storage tanks with secondary containment measures, and barriers to control any potential runoff."
"STEP 2: DRILLING
First the drill rig is brought to the location—maybe 20 or 30 truck loads—and put together. Now It’s time to build the infrastructure necessary to unlock the oil and natural gas trapped more than a mile below the ground."
"1. Flaring for Operational and Safety Reasons
• Diversion and disposal of gas influx (kick) during drilling."
"2. Flaring for Economic Reasons
(Figure 3 and Figure 4)
• Associated gas produced with crude oil (also called casinghead gas) that has a ready market, but where the gathering, compression, and sales infrastructure for the gas is under construction but not yet operable, and where economic factors require early oil production in advance of natural gas capture."
"• Associated gas produced with crude oil that has a ready market, but where construction and installation of a gathering, compression, and sales infrastructure for the gas is not economic, or where the required expansion of the existing system is not economic."