Protecting the incredible beauty and diversity of our country’s landscape is vitally important. One way the oil and gas industry works to protect Canada’s lands is by minimizing its wellsite footprint.
Wellsites and their access roads are a necessity for the oilpatch. Land must be cleared temporarily to accommodate the equipment, buildings and vehicles needed on site to drill and complete a well. But wellsites today are only as large as they absolutely have to be.
Over the years, the oil and gas industry has significantly reduced the average wellsite footprint by using a variety of innovative practices and technologies, including:
- Starting every project by assessing the region’s wildlife, habitats and archaeological history – and making plans to protect them
- Planning and sharing access roads with forestry and agricultural users
- Partnering with forestry companies to harvest timber from wellsites and roads
- Making use of innovations that reduce the amount of needed equipment and people on-site
- Using horizontal, directional and multi-lateral drilling technologies to extend reach and to target resources under sensitive lands or water bodies
- Using coiled tubing and slimhole drilling technology
- Re-entering old wells to tap into oil and gas still trapped underground
- Recycling water for reuse in fracturing and other operations
- Laying temporary roads out of matting (watch for the December issue of PatchWorks for more on matting)
- Using faster, more efficient rigs that use less fuel
- Using environmentally friendly drilling fluids (see October PatchWorks)
A modern well can access a much larger subsurface area than it could in the past.
And with good planning, environmentally friendly practices and innovative technologies, the industry can drill fewer wells to add the same reserves. That keeps our economy thriving and our industry’s footprint constantly shrinking.