Technological Advancements Continue to Safely Unlock More American Oil & Gas, Creating Tens of Thousands of Jobs
Hydraulic fracturing has opened the doors for the production of critical and abundant oil and gas reserves in the U.S., and abroad. With over 100 years of clean-burning natural gas now accessible in the U.S. alone, fracturing has increased our domestic energy security while creating jobs and economic opportunities from the well pad to our local hotels and diners. And there’s more good news. Technologies are advancing at breakneck rates, dramatically reducing aboveground land disturbances while heightening environmental safeguards.
Indeed, under the headline “Encana extends capacity of directional drilling,” the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports this about the technological advancements that our industry is continually making:
When Encana Oil & Gas (USA) was trying to figure out how to drill for the natural gas beneath a narrow box canyon north of Parachute, it was time for some out-of-the-box thinking.
The company’s solution? It drilled a remarkable 50-plus wells directionally from one well pad of just 4.6 acres. As a result, it developed about 640 acres of underground resources — the amount contained in a square mile — from a single location, based on underground well densities of as much as one every 10 acres. That’s the most wells that Frank Merendino, Encana’s drilling manager for its North Parachute Ranch property, believes has been drilled from an onshore pad anywhere in the United States.
“The reason they’re all here is to drain this massive area … without impacting the environment,” Merendino said as he surveyed the well pad. In the distance behind it, a long, thin waterfall coursed from the rim at the canyon head. It’s one of seven falls on the 45,000-acre ranch property.
The directional drilling prevented the cost and visual impact of trying to build pads on the canyon cliff sides, or drilling through a few extra thousand feet of earth from surrounding plateaus and having to locate pads near the rim, where possible spills into the canyon would be a concern.
Encana’s effort won it a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission award this summer. It also is appreciated by state wildlife officials because of the reduced disturbance of habitat. Encana’s accomplishment reflects oil and gas technology’s continuing evolution, said Dean Riggs, assistant regional manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Grand Junction.
“Many, many moons ago, we used to have one well per gas pad,” Riggs said. Riggs took over as the manager of the wildlife area that includes Encana’s North Parachute project eight years ago, and back then four wells on a pad was probably normal in the region, he said. “Eight wells per pad eight years ago was a big deal,” he said.
Similar technological advancements are on display in Wyoming. This from yesterday’s Houston Chronicleunder the headline “Remote Wyoming site could help shape fracking’s future”:
Natural gas development in the U.S. will depend not only on what happens in Washington and in statehouses across the country. It could be shaped in part by what happens in a big antelope-dotted field south of this remote valley town.
Here, Shell Oil Co. and others are taking steps – some required and others voluntary – that soon may be the norm for reducing the environmental impact of gas drilling and the extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Shell, for instance, now recycles more than half the water it uses in fracturing local wells, reducing the need for locally sourced fresh water. It also has installed equipment that is sharply cutting emissions from drilling rigs and has shrunk its surface footprint by drilling more wells at a single site, rather than spacing them out checkerboard style, as is done in some other fields.
And support for America’s oil and natural gas industry – and common sense hydraulic fracturing regulations – runs as deep as the wells being drilled into shale formations. Last week, a diverse group of 119 organizations — including the National Association of Manufacturers, US Chamber of Commerce, Independent Petroleum Association of American, Ohio Grocers Association, and North Dakota Farm Bureau — sent a letter to President Obama highlighting the immense benefits of this energy revolution. This from the letter:
The shale gas and oil revolution in America today has been good news for job creation, economic growth and energy security, and it promises hundreds of thousands of more new jobs, billions of dollars more in revenue to governments, and vast supplies of domestic, affordable and clean-burning energy for generations to come.
Speaking of jobs: A new Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program study highlights the potential of the emerging Utica Shale formation last week. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports “Ohio’s natural gas and oil reserves are a multibillion-dollar bonanza that could create more than 204,500 jobs in just four years.” Here are key study experts:
- Ohio’s natural gas and crude oil industry’s could reinvest approximately $246 million on new exploration and development in 2011, and is estimated to ramp up to $14 billion by 2015;
- Between 2011 and 2015, Ohio’s natural gas and crude oil industry will help create and support more than 204,520 jobs; and
- Ohio’s natural gas and crude oil operators (producers) could distribute more than $1.6 billion in royalty payments to local landowners, schools, businesses and communities based on an estimate of 2,837 new Utica wells drilled and completed between 2011 and 2015.
And it’s not just here at home. The shale revolution — enabled by American technology and know-how — is going global. From South America to eastern Europe, vast oil and natural gas supplies are being responsibly leverage into a more stable energy supplies for consumers while generating enormous economic benefits.
“Argentina minister: Boom set in unconventional gas”: Argentina’s vast unconventional natural gas resources will become an important contributor to the South American nation’s energy matrix within the next four years, according to a top minister. …”We, together with [gas rich] Bolivia, are going to become an gigantic source of gas in South America with opportunities for industrialization,” he said. According to recent U.S. Energy Information Administration report, Argentina ranks No. 3 in the world in terms of technically recoverable shale-gas resources with 774 trillion cubic feet of gas.”
Shale gas “could reduce Poland’s dependence on Russia for gas, create tens of thousands of jobs and fill state coffers”: Outside the U.S., Poland is the first country where companies are making a serious effort to develop shale gas, which Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has called the country’s “great chance,” as it could reduce Poland’s dependence on Russia for gas, create tens of thousands of jobs and fill state coffers.
“Firm finds shale gas near Blackpool “:A company exploring for controversial “shale gas” in the UK says it could drill hundreds of wells in Lancashire to tap into vast gas resources underground. Cuadrilla Resources, whose exploration efforts near Blackpool had to be halted earlier in the year amid concerns they were causing tremors, said there were 200 trillion cubic feet of gas under the ground in the area. A percentage of the gas could be recovered for use in the UK’s energy mix, providing up to 5,600 jobs, including 1,700 in the local area, at the peak of production, the company has suggested.
Ireland, Canada, and Bulgaria, to name a few, are also evaluating the promise of oil and natural gas development – enabled by hydraulic fracturing – from shale formations. The trend is catching on — the world wants competitive and efficient energies that can keep up with expanding global demand.