Landscape with well
Despite its poor image, fracking causes little mess or disruption
Jul 14th 2012 | from the print edition
DEEP IN THE rolling tree-clad hills of Pennsylvania, on a hilltop close to a group of barns and farmhouses, Chevron’s Kikta well pad can be found at the end of a narrow country lane. This is part of the Marcellus shale, 250,000 sq km (96,500 square miles) of gasfields stretching across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York state. The drilling rig is 30 metres high, so large that it is hard to imagine how it could have got to the site, but it comes apart and the components fit onto lorries. It sits on an acre of flattened hilltop, along with a million-gallon reservoir to provide the huge quantities of water needed for extracting shale gas. Vehicles and machines are poised for action. Four wells will be drilled from this one pad. The drill will first bore 2,300-2,600 metres (7,500- 8,500 feet) downwards; then the drill bit is coaxed to the horizontal and the drilling continues outwards. Gas will start rising to the wellheads, just a few metres apart, after the next task is performed: hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
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