Closed-loop Systems capture Horizontal Drilling Debris from Marcellus Shale

by Duane Nichols on February 13, 2011

Anadarko, which is drilling extensively on state forest land in Pennsylvania, decided last year to convert all its Marcellus operations into closed-loop systems, eliminating pits and collecting debris in steel containers that are carted to landfills. It also received state permission to dig up the buried cuttings from about a dozen wells it already had drilled. “We want to say we haven’t buried anything here,” said Steve Woelfel, Anadarko’s drilling-operations manager in Appalachia. “It always could be a risk. It could come back to you.”

Anadarko says the closed-loop system is part of a broader “no-spill” strategy aimed at keeping all materials contained during the drilling process. Said Scott Chesebro, Anadarko’s engineering manager for Appalachian operations: “Nothing we bring to the surface touches the ground.”

In some states, operators dispose of drilling debris by plowing it into fields, a practice known as “land-farming.” Other “beneficial uses” include using cuttings on gravel roads or mixing them with asphalt as paving material. Jamie Legenos, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said the state had received no formal requests for “beneficial uses” of drill cuttings.

Natural gas drilling has aroused such ardent opposition (in northeast Pennsylvania) that even disposing of cuttings at approved landfills has raised alarms, forcing landfill operators to assure local officials that all incoming waste is tested for radioactivity and hazardous materials.  See the news article here.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Nicole February 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Kudos to Anadarko for stepping up and admitting that horizontal drilling is not 100% safe AND modifying its practices to protect water sources.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: