ODNR Adds More Inspectors to Keep Up With Utica Shale Activity
The blowout preventer topping the shale well was a massive red-painted chunk of steel, 80 tons’ worth, and a vital safeguard. If something went wrong while Sidewinder Rig No. 63 drilled any of the six wells planned for Rex Energy’s J. Hall pad in Guernsey County, the device would use powerful hydraulic rams to close the well.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources inspector Tom Hill ducked under part of the rig to get a better view of what he called the “BOP.” That’s what it’s supposed to look like, he shouted over the rig’s roaring air compressors and squeaking drill.
Sidewinder No. 63 was one of 40 or so rigs probing eastern Ohio’s Utica Shale last month, and the blowout preventer was part of a safety system comprising protective ground linings, emergency gas-flaring systems and hydrogen sulfide monitors.
None of those safeguards mattered if they weren’t properly installed or if the well wasn’t built correctly.
To make sure drillers follow the rules as shale exploration intensifies, the state is hiring more inspectors.
“We’ve made sure we have enough staff hired and properly trained to regulate this industry, taking into account the population density and other things that may affect it,” ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Chief Richard J. Simmers said during a speech in May at Atwood Lake Resort.
With more than 64,000 active oil and gas wells in Ohio, most of them smaller vertical wells, and another 20,000 larger horizontal shale wells anticipated, those inspectors have a big job ahead.
Some critics say the state will remain understaffed, even with the new hires. Others say ODNR lacks the regulatory teeth to be truly effective.Read much more in this article by clicking right here.
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