Assessing Environmental Impacts of Horizontal Gas Well Drilling Operations
Ziemkiewicz, Paul; Hause, Jennifer
Large-scale development of the Appalachian Basin shale gas resources began in 2008. However, until now, there has been no systematic attempt to characterize the waste streams resulting from the use of hydraulic fracturing to develop the resources. The rapid expansion of hydraulic fracturing has brought communities into close contact with exploration and extraction operations. This has increased public concern over the environmental and health effects of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
In support of West Virginia's recently enacted Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act, the West Virginia Water Research Institute conducted studies to characterize liquid and solid waste streams and air emissions from both vertical and horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations in the Marcellus Shale Formation. Marcellus gas wells at various stages of development were selected for monitoring. The study focused on the interval between well spudding and the initiation of gas production. Eight wells were studied during 2012. The water and waste stream monitoring focused on sampling and analyzing the chemical characteristics of hydraulic fracturing make-up water (frac water), drilling fluids, muds and cuttings along with the flowback waters. A suite of thirty-one inorganic and thirteen organic parameters were analyzed. In addition, liquid- and solid-waste (cuttings, muds, etc.) samples from the drilling process were analyzed for radioactivity.
This paper summarizes the results of our study and characterizes the chemical composition of frac water, flowback water and solid-waste streams including cuttings and drilling muds.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90163©2013AAPG 2013 Annual Convention and Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 19-22, 2013