what happens in 50 years when the underground pipes corrode and the toxic mix down there leaches into the aquifer? How many international companies are scoping out the Marcellus shale? Many and they will sell gas to Europe and China. Why can't gas companies be mandated to use biodegradable substances for fracking rock as opposed to the current mix of biocides ( that means something that kills life whether microscopic or not) benezene and tuolene, ( known carcinogens and is there one person on this site who does not know someone with cancer?) diesel fuel derivatives/ You may think it is " hysteria" for someone to complain about their well blowing up as in Dimock where I am, but if it were YOUR water , YOUR well , YOUR clean air and quiet being ruined, I doubt that you would be so dismissive. You can get all the dollars you want but without clean water to drink and air to breathe, you have nothing.
I like the way you're thinking - I prefer to see farms with gas wells rather than the land being sold off for housing or industrial developments. I believe that responsible drilling will actually preserve the land for future generations. Sure, we made need to tolerate noise, increased traffic, and poor road conditions for a short time but that all goes away soon after the wells are completed.
Local Water Well Driller offers insight into Marcellus shale drilling Process
by Sally Zegers
Francis Tully of Poyntelle, Pa., a well driller for most of his life, weighed in recently on drilling for natural gas in the area, based on what he calls the science of the drilling process.
The Tully Drilling Company was started in 1928, by his father, Ben Tully. The elder Tully had been a Ford dealer in the area, during the era when new cars arrived in boxes by train, and the dealers put them together. “Dad excelled with people,” he says.
According to Francis, his father bought a brand new Ford truck and drove it to Ohio to have a drill rig mounted on it. The engine ran both the truck and then the drill rig, once the truck’s back wheels were hoisted off the ground. The Tullys, father Ben and sons Francis and Tom, were in the water well drilling business.
“It was a good business,” Francis said. He learned it from the ground up, literally, after being put to work after graduation in 1942.
He says he tried in vain to enter the Army, turned down seven times because of a large and distinctive hemangioma, or blood cyst, on his lower lip. “The doctors were afraid I’d get hit there and it would bleed heavily,” he says now. “I tried to tell them no one was getting that close to me.”
He returned home and his father “put me to work.” It was easy to learn everything about the process because Ben Tully “didn’t believe in doing a lot of hiring,” and Francis had to run five machines. At that time, he says, it took one to two weeks to drill a water well. With today’s technology, a well can be drilled in a few hours.
Tully Drilling was a major and well respected business in Wayne County for several decades, serving farmers and small businesspeople across the area. “Dad worked with all the farmers. Farmers’ credit was always good,” he says. He recalls his father getting a dozen Rhode Island Reds as partial payment on one job. Unfortunately, he forgot he already had a fighting rooster in the coop, and the family ate a lot of chicken for a while.
Over the years, according to Francis Tully, the company drilled 10,000 wells across several counties and two states, and he still has the files to prove it.
He says the phenomenon of “fracture zone seepage” is relatively common in Susquehanna and Wayne Counties and drillers often found natural gas while drilling for water. The internet features several videos of people “flaring” matches at water faucets in Susquehanna County, which is cited as evidence that gas drilling is damaging private water wells. However, drillers fifty years ago often found that they could flare matches at the faucets. According to Francis Tully, near Clifford, in Susquehanna County, “nearly every well in the area” has natural gas.
The gas is so much deeper underground that it’s under much higher pressure, and is forced up into the level that holds the water, he says. He expects the Equinunk area to be a hot spot for gas, based on his experience drilling wells.
The phenomenon occurs mainly on land near streams and the river. In New York State, he reports, when gas was encountered, it was a 50-50 split between natural gas or sulphur. “You had to be careful not to drill too deeply,” he said, “or you’d get sulphur.”
If you did drill too deep and got sulphur water, you had to plug that well and get the water from a more shallow spot in the drilled hole. To do that, he says, drillers took a piece of wood, and put a staple on top of it. They would cover the wood with burlap and put it down the well, below the spot where they wanted it, then yank it up with great force, lodging the wood at the spot where they wanted the well to be plugged. Then they poured concrete on top of the wooden plug.
Over the years he has encountered almost every situation possible in drilling water wells, from finding gas and even oil, and finding nothing - not even water. He drilled four wells on one property before he struck water for the homeowner. Being hired to find water, he points out, means you have to find water, meaning he only charged the homeowner for the one successful well, and ate the rest of the cost.
Tully Drilling also did a lot of business in Scranton, closing off old mines, and trying to put out mine fires. He’s proud of his family’s work in completely extinguishing one mine fire, a rare occurrence. He admits that it took 99,000 yards of sand, but they got it done.
He worked with geologists over the years, and “picked their brains,” picking up a lot of information on geology. He invented a drill that also takes core samples while drilling, and received a patent on it.
According to Francis Tully, the photographs he’s seen of the well that blew up in Dimock, Pa. on New Year’s Day 2009 lead him to believe that the tank itself blew up. He believes the switch froze in the on position, and it couldn’t switch off, allowing pressure to build and build until the tank blew apart. “Tanks do blow up,” he says, noting that he’s seen it happen many times over the 60 plus years he was in the business. A ccording to him, one tank came up through the floor of a living room, hit the ceiling and ended up on the divan. Fortunately, he says, the homeowner was out of the house at the time, which sounds like a classic understatement.
He believes drilling for natural gas should be “perfectly safe” as long the drillers use three layers of pipe, using surface casing down to 1,000 feet, then drilling 7,600 feet to the Marcellus Shale. Then you case it again and grout it.
The level at which water is found is relatively shallow. Drillers will bore through it with boreholes encased in steel and concrete, to protect the water supply, Tully points out. The Marcellus Shale is more than a mile underground.
The different levels of rock and shale in the earth are like “pages in a book,” he says. He points out that the layers of rock protect the water in the upper level. Fracturing, something water drillers have done for years with dynamite, only fractures the rock close to the well, not the thousands of feet above it.
He has traveled out to Titusville, Pa., to see the original site of oil drilling, and notes that there are “no tar paper shacks” in that area. “They’re prosperous,” he points out.
He considers the entire development of gas drilling an exciting topic. “I wish I was twenty years younger. I’d be drilling,” he says.
He sold the building that housed the business about two years ago, and retired, albeit reluctantly, but still travels around to drilling sites and talks with the men behind the machines. “I don’t have a college degree, so I’m an unpaid consultant,” he smiles.
He regrets junking the first Ford truck that Ben Tully used to start the business, but has accumulated few other regrets over a lifetime of work. Following the flood of 2006, many local wells in the area were underwater, but because of the materials used and the attention to detail, none of the Tully wells was contaminated. He is quietly proud that his reputation, and that of his family, is secure.
It would be a good idea to educate yourself about the ACTUAL natural gas drilling process before worrying about things that have not happened.
You are aware that these processes have been used before in many states, correct? And the people who live there are still alive and well.
This craziness is the result of certain fairly new "environmental" groups who are twisting information to make it seem like drilling is one more giant conspiracy. Get your information from neutral sources.
Wow.. What a surprise, Carolyn the chef is back spewing the same garbage as always. I'm sorry I didn't answer your simple-minded questions in my "the most common questions and answers post". I didn't address the dumb questions.
What happens in 50 years when the pipe corrodes? Do you think there is just a single metal pipe in the ground in contact with the earth? WRONG. (and this is considering MODERN drilling). Let me clarify this for you, I know it's hard for you to understand how stuff works in this world - the pipe is put down the hole (casing) and then cemented in place. In the upper section of the hole, there will actually be 3 layers of pipe/cement before anything in the wellbore (gas) can come in contact with the earth.
"How many natural gas companies are scoping out the marcellus? - and they will sell gas to Europe and China." WHAT?!!??!?! Carolyn if you think Europe and Asian companies are going to take gas here and sell it IN china, or europe... my god woman you have no idea how this industry works do you. Is there a large scale LNG plant I'm unaware of, or a intercontinental pipeline across the atlantic or pacific I'm unaware of? (don't think too hard and hurt yourself - there isn't). How are they going to get the gas out of this country in a more profitable way than selling it to the east coast? I understand you have no idea how businesses work so that point likely means nothing to you.
The thing is, is that in 10 years that might be a possibility because idiots like you are trying to stop american companies from developing it and using it ourselves. You want to go straight to wind power and not use nat gas. It really is embarassing that foreign companies are able to come in and work our shale. You are what is wrong with this country. You are why we depend on foreign sources of energy.
Carolyn - here's a question for you. If you are so passionate about this issue of getting biodegradable frack fluids instead of what we have now.... How come you don't do something about it? Why don't you go into the science field and personally figure out a solution? Oh that's right, you are a CHEF. You do absolutely nothing to actually solve the problem (you and the other environmental monkeys) and you just complain about it. Thats all you treehuggers do. You are all complaining - NO SOLUTION.
Congratulations Carolyn - you, with your ridiculous comments, are the laughing stock of GoMarcellusShale.com. Do yourself a favor and throw your computer away.
What makes this site so great? Well, I think it's the fact that, quite frankly, we all have a lot at stake in this thing they call shale. But beyond that, this site is made up of individuals who have worked hard for that little yard we call home. Or, that farm on which blood, sweat and tears have fallen.[ Read More ]