Cement plays vital role in drilling
Whether it’s in Texas, Wyoming, or Pennsylvania there is a lot that can go wrong in cementing an unconventional natural gas well. Unfortunately it often does.
“Some experts contend that the complex mixing, pouring and curing of cement under invisible, high-pressure conditions hundreds of feet below the surface of the Earth is a leading culprit in environmental catastrophes associated with oil and gas drilling — on land and offshore. But myriad problems associated with ‘cementing failures’ have remained out of public view — until now.”
“Dangling about 125 feet above the ground and swinging in stiff winds, a 90-foot string of pipe bangs against the cold, metal drilling rig, slipping from the tool pushers below. The clanging is startling, but the roughnecks atop a three-story-high platform manage to gather the monstrous pipe and maneuver it into place.”
“On the dusty gravel pad below, four crewmen clad in red coveralls lean against a Halliburton truck, waiting. Some gnaw gum. Some spit. Some wipe dust from their faces as they prepare for their critical step: setting the thin layer of cement that protects aquifers from the surge of dirty salt water and other fluids that will come barreling back to the surface from thousands of feet below.”
With these gripping and dramatic words, Beth Francesco, writing for the Denton Record-Chronicle in Texas, begins her look at the cementing process in unconventional natural gas drilling development, the dangers, uncertainties, and people involved.