Well Construction & Hydraulic Fracturing Best Practices

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a safe, proven technology that the natural gas and oil industry has been leveraging for over 70 years. Although often mischaracterized in the media, more than a million wells across the United States safely and efficiently utilize fracking technology. In order to stimulate oil and natural gas production from rock that otherwise will not produce hydrocarbons, the process involves pumping sand and water, along with a small percentage of additives, at a high pressure to create paper thin fractures in hydrocarbon-bearing rock formations. These small fractures are held open by sand and they create pathways for the natural gas to flow from the shale formation to the well.

Well Integrity

Safety and sustainability are at the heart of our operations. Range designs, constructs, and operates our wells using innovative and advanced technology and industry practices in accordance with regulatory specifications and requirements.

Multiple layers of protective steel casing are inserted deep below the surface and cemented back to the surface to ensure optimum well integrity. Strict state regulations and industry standards govern the casing, cement specifications, and process.

The steel casings are specially designed, manufactured, and installed to provide long-term protection against certain rock strata elements that may corrode equipment during the drilling process. When necessary, additives or special cement blends may be used to help inhibit naturally occurring external forces, such as hydrogen sulfide or carbon dioxide, from causing corrosion on steel casings.

Once the cement has set, the wellbore is drilled from the bottom of the previously cemented steel casing to the next depth. This process is repeated using smaller diameter steel casings until the well has reached its horizontal target. To put this in perspective, more than three million pounds of steel and cement are utilized in a well that stretches almost two miles to isolate the wellbore with several layers of casing cemented in place. This is critical because it protects surrounding groundwater aquifers and promotes the safe production of oil and gas.

Water Protection

Water is a vital resource shared by all in the communities in which we operate, and Range is deeply committed to the protection of water sources. Our best practice approach is founded on protecting water throughout the lifecycle of development, from baseline pre-drill testing of water supplies to frequent wellbore integrity assessments. Our casing and cementing designs are developed in accordance with applicable regulations and industry standards.

Range tests water sources within a minimum (though often beyond) 2,500-foot radius of a well site prior to any operations taking place in Pennsylvania. An approved, third-party consultant and state certified laboratory conducts these tests, and the results are sent to the landowners, state regulatory agencies, and kept on file with Range. This data ensures that all stakeholders have access to more information about their water resources and baseline water quality before drilling takes place.

During operations, active monitoring and evaluation of well bore integrity also ensures that drilling and completion activity occurs in a safe, isolated environment that protects groundwater resources. Range utilizes several techniques in the Marcellus region specifically in advance of hydraulic fracturing to test well bore integrity. This process ensures the multiple layers of steel casing and cement system are fully secure and prevents any fluid or methane from escaping the wellbore.

Chemicals Used and Disclosed

Through the use of FracFocus, a national disclosure registry for oil and gas exploration founded by the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission, Range is able to provide disclosure of every completed well’s fracturing fluid. Range was the first in the industry to voluntarily disclose the composition of the fracturing fluid for each completed well on our website. We did so as part of our ongoing commitment to the core Company value of transparency. For shale gas development, a typical fluid design is comprised of more than 99 percent water and sand, with a small proportion of common, highly diluted additives used to clean the wellbore and prevent bacterial growth and scaling in the well.

By using FracFocus, we provide regulators, landowners, and citizens an account of the highly diluted additives used at each well site, along with their classifications, volumes, dilution factors, and common, everyday purposes. Range does not use diesel fuels as defined by the EPA or BTEX in any of our hydraulic fracturing fluids. Despite the fact that fracturing additives are carefully managed and injected through multiple cemented strings of steel casing, Range takes the extra step of encouraging all vendors to utilize the most environmentally friendly additives whenever technically possible. We consistently work with scientists, government agencies, and contractors to constantly improve our processes, including the use of “green completions,” food grade fluids, and biodegradable additives.