Site Preparation

Before well drilling can begin, the site must be prepared.

Before well drilling can begin, the company must clear vegetation and construct a pad for the drilling rig and other equipment used in preparing the well. Drill pad sites are often located some distance from public roadways. Therefore, operators must also construct an access road between the public road and the well site.

The drilling process uses a large volume of drilling fluid that is circulated through the drill pipe and drill bit, then back to the surface. As the fluid returns to the surface, it carries the ground-up rock particles (drill cuttings). To manage the returning fluid and the drill cuttings, operators construct a reserve pit (a pit located next to the drilling rig to catch the drill cuttings, used drilling mud, and other materials). Some operators also construct separate auxiliary pits that collect fluids that fall onto the area directly beneath the rig.

The company pays a use fee to the landowner for disturbing an area for the drilling pad, other auxiliary pits, and an access road. Typically the disturbed area is no more than 500 ft by 500 ft, plus the area of the access road.

The land is cleared and leveled using earth-moving equipment. The access road and pad are covered with gravel to stabilize the area from erosion and to allow access for heavy oil field equipment. Reserve pits are lined with a synthetic geotextile fabric material. The auxiliary pits may or may not be lined, based on the types of materials likely to be stored in the pits and the policy of individual companies.


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