at Every Operational Stage
During the drilling phase, multiple layers of protective steel casing, surrounded by cement, are installed to protect freshwater aquifers and other natural resources. We engineer our wellbore design to prevent the migration of produced fluids and hydrocarbons. We also work with regulatory agencies to ensure we meet or exceed guidelines for wellbore construction. These guidelines often vary by jurisdiction in response to each state’s unique geology.
Systematic monitoring takes place during drilling to safeguard the well for environmental and economic reasons. Each well is monitored by both the Drilling team on-site and our Operations Support Center (OSC) based in Oklahoma City. These teams work in tandem to monitor data and alerts, to help ensure drilling and wellbore construction accuracy.
One example of the importance of this monitoring is when drilling occurs near an offset well. It’s Chesapeake’s practice to conduct an anti-collision analysis prior to drilling to minimize the risk of interacting with a nearby well. Should our acreage be adjacent to that of another company, we coordinate with the neighboring company to identify its well locations and align our activity schedules.
After preparing the well during the drilling stage, we utilize hydraulic fracturing to stimulate and recover oil and natural gas resources. We employ the use of hydraulic fracturing technology for all wells and are committed to industry best practices in well integrity and chemical use.
We take a proactive approach to reducing or replacing the chemicals used in our hydraulic fracturing process through our GreenFrac® initiative. GreenFrac challenges Chesapeake engineers to evaluate the necessity of each chemical additive and determine if a more environmentally friendly option could be used.
In many of our operating areas we’ve implemented high-viscosity friction reducers, which largely eliminate the need for gelled fluid systems. In the Eagle Ford Shale, Brazos Valley, Powder River Basin and Haynesville Shale, we use crosslink systems only when needed.
Since 2011, Chesapeake has not used diesel, a common fuel and carrier solvent known to contain BTEX, in any concentration within our hydraulic fracturing chemistries.
For further transparency around the hydraulic fracturing process, we disclose the ingredients contained within completion fluids to state regulatory agencies and to the public on fracfocus.org. FracFocus, a web-based registry with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, provides detail on completion process additives, chemicals and the amount of water used, as reported by oil and natural gas operators. Chesapeake was an early supporter of FracFocus, championing the site and contributing to its development.
When reporting to FracFocus, Chesapeake utilizes information supplied to us by our vendors in the form of Safety Data Sheets (SDS). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governs the information that’s supplied on the SDS and, in certain situations, allows a manufacturer or vendor to withhold specific information about a chemical or substance to protect confidential business information (CBI) or proprietary trade secret information. However, the manufacturer is required to report all pertinent health hazard warnings associated with any ingredient declared as CBI.
We encourage our additive suppliers to be as transparent as possible regarding the composition of their products. For example, we support our service providers reporting both the actual additives used in their hydraulic fracturing operations and, separately, the individual chemistries contained in the additives. Companies can enhance reporting transparency and maintain formulation confidentiality by keeping individual chemicals separate from their respective additives.
Since February 2011, we’ve reported on 100% of our well completions to FracFocus, a total of more than 7,600 disclosures.
Throughout a well’s lifecycle, protecting both the wellbore and the pad site is paramount. Chesapeake utilizes a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for monitoring different aspects of a well’s performance during its life stages. Through a series of sensors on or near the well and its accompanying facilities, SCADA collects data that’s monitored by our OSC employees.
- Pressure in wells and surface vessels
- Liquid levels in tanks
- Open/closed valve positions
- Well downtime
- Mobile SCADA — application used to access SCADA data on mobile devices
Should data indicate a potential concern, OSC team members alert field employees to investigate. Our proprietary WellTender mobile application also uses this site-sensor data. WellTender acts as a dispatch system, automatically delivering alarms directly to the field, including downtime-related notifications. Lease operators, as the end users, receive a list of prioritized wells, allowing them to investigate and address issues more efficiently.
Not only does WellTender prioritize well visits, but it makes data available to most team members. In the past, lease operators could only review their personal routes via mobile technology. With WellTender, if a lease operator is out of the office, another team member can assume their priority wells.
Launched in 2018, the app is now used across all business units. As the application collects more data, there’s an opportunity to analyze inputs to determine if predictive patterns exist and identify potential risk factors.
Inactive or Abandoned Wells
During a well’s lifecycle, it may become necessary to temporarily abandon or to plug and abandon (permanently close) a well due to its economic viability. An industry term, “abandon” is a comprehensive process that could include either temporarily shutting in a well or plugging the well with approved materials, cutting off any casing and sealing the well.
Each state regulates this process uniquely, and Chesapeake follows applicable rules when managing inactive wells. Specific to each state, many regulations require a series of cement plugs placed inside the wellbore, across any hydrocarbon-bearing formations and freshwater aquifers. Testing is also often required to confirm there is no escape of hydrocarbon-containing materials.