Operations and Environmental Protection

During the drilling phase, multiple layers of protective steel casing, surrounded by cement, are installed to protect freshwater aquifers and other natural resources. We engineer our wellbore design to prevent the migration of produced fluids and hydrocarbons. We also work with regulatory agencies to ensure we meet or exceed guidelines for wellbore construction. These guidelines often vary by jurisdiction in response to each state's unique geology.

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Systematic monitoring takes place during drilling to safeguard the well for environmental and economic reasons. Each well is monitored by both the drilling team on site and our Operations Support Center (OSC) based in Oklahoma City. These teams work in tandem to monitor data and alerts, to help ensure drilling and wellbore construction accuracy.

One example of the importance of this monitoring is when drilling occurs near an offset well. It is Chesapeake's practice to conduct an anti-collision analysis prior to drilling to minimize the risk of interacting with a nearby well. Chesapeake's operational standards mandate surveys that give locational information of our wells to nearby operators, mapping the wells to avoid nearby activity. Should our acreage be adjacent to that of another company, we coordinate with the neighboring company to identify its well locations and align our activity schedules. 

After preparing the well during the drilling stage, we utilize the completion process of hydraulic fracturing to stimulate and recover natural gas and oil resources. We employ the use of hydraulic fracturing technology for all of our wells and are committed to industry best practices in well integrity and chemical use. 

Hydraulic Fracturing Process​

Once drilling is complete, a mixture most commonly consisting of water, sand and a small percentage of additives is pumped at a high pressure to create small fissures, or fractures, within the rock. These newly created fractures are held open by proppants (typically sand), which allow the trapped natural gas and oil to flow through the well and up to the surface.

Over the past two years we have reduced the number of drilling additives we use. In many of our operating areas we have implemented high-viscosity friction reducers, which largely eliminate the need for gelled fluid systems such as guar gels, crosslink, breakers and activators. In South Texas, Brazos Valley, Rockies and Eastern Gulf Coast, we use crosslink systems only when needed.

FracFocus

In an effort to improve transparency around the use of chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing process, we disclose the additives contained within completion fluids to state regulatory agencies and to the public on fracfocus.org. FracFocus, a web-based registry with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, provides detail on completion process additives, chemicals and the amount of water used, as reported by oil and gas operators. Chesapeake was an early supporter of FracFocus, championing the site and contributing to its development. 

Since February 2011, we have reported on 100% of our well completions, a total of more than 7,000 disclosures. When reporting to FracFocus, Chesapeake utilizes information supplied to us by our vendors in the form of Safety Data Sheets (SDS). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governs the information that is supplied on the SDS and, in certain situations, allows a manufacturer or vendor to withhold specific information about a chemical or substance in order to protect what the manufacturer believes to be confidential business information (CBI) or proprietary trade secret information. However, the manufacturer is required to report all pertinent health hazard warnings associated with any ingredient declared as CBI. Chesapeake's SDS are available on chk.com

We encourage our additive suppliers to be as transparent as possible regarding the composition of their products. To this point, we support the efforts of our service providers who report both the actual additives used in their hydraulic fracturing operations and, separately, the individual chemistries contained in the additives. By not marrying the individual chemicals to their respective additives, companies are able to enhance reporting transparency and maintain formulation confidentiality without withholding individual chemical names.   

GreenFrac®​

We take a proactive approach to reducing or replacing the chemicals used in our hydraulic fracturing process through our GreenFrac® initiative. GreenFrac® challenges Chesapeake engineers to evaluate the necessity of each chemical additive and determine if a more environmentally friendly option could be used. 

We actively pursue the use of dry additives, such as dry friction reducers and dry guar gels, which offer an environmental benefit, compared to chemicals that incorporate aromatic or BTEX-containing ingredients. Since 2011, Chesapeake has not allowed the use of diesel, a common fuel and carrier solvent known to contain BTEX, in any concentration within our hydraulic fracturing chemistries. 

Well Site Integrity

​​Throughout a well's lifecycle, protecting both the wellbore and the pad site is paramount. Chesapeake utilizes a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for monitoring different aspects of a well's performance during its life stages. Through a series of sensors on or near the well and its accompanying facilities, SCADA collects data which is monitored at all times by our OSC employees. 

Although data collection can vary by well, SCADA has the ability to gather information such as:

  • Pressure in wells and surface vessels
  • Liquid levels in tanks
  • Runtime status for all electrical motors
  • Open/closed valve positions
  • Well downtime

Should data indicate a potential concern, OSC team members alert field employees to investigate. 

Also using site-sensor data is our proprietary CHK WellTender mobile application. CHK WellTender acts as a dispatch system and in most cases automatically delivers alarms directly to the field, including downtime-related notifications. Lease operators, as the end users, receive a list of prioritized wells, allowing them to investigate and address issues more efficiently. 

Not only does CHK WellTender prioritize well visits, but it makes data available to most any team member. In the past, lease operators could only review their personal routes via mobile technology. With CHK WellTender, if a lease operator is out of the office, another team member can assume his or her priority wells. CHK WellTender was launched in 2018 and is now used in all business units. As the application collects more data, there is an opportunity to analyze inputs to determine if predictive patterns exist, thereby proactively identifying potential risk factors.

Inactive or Abandoned Wells

​During a well's lifecycle, it may become necessary to temporarily abandon or to plug and abandon (permanently close) a well due to its economic viability. An industry term, "abandon" is a comprehensive process that could include either temporarily shutting in a well or plugging the well with approved materials, cutting off any casing and sealing the well.

Each state regulates this process uniquely, and Chesapeake follows applicable rules when managing inactive wells. Specific to each state, many regulations require a series of cement plugs placed inside the wellbore, across any hydrocarbon-bearing formations and freshwater aquifers. Testing is also often required to confirm there is no escape of hydrocarbon-containing materials.