Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Drilling Past Rocket Science

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Its not rocket science. Its arguably more complicated.

With all due respect to space explorers, the people doing the most complex

engineering feats these days are exploring for oil and natural gas.

But you dont know that because the mainstream media that fawns over Space X

couldnt care less about the engineering wonders that happen right here on earth.

Youre skeptical, I know. But stop for a moment and consider something

truly astonishing. Drilling engineers are now putting pipes in the ground

that extend for... wait for it... nearly six miles. How amazing is that?

Its a technical marvel thats actually good for all of us in a

number of ways. But, first, lets consider the technical accomplishment.

The worlds longest well was recently drilled in the Marcellus-Utica shale

formation in eastern Ohio. The drill bit bored two miles down.

Then, at whats called the kick point, engineers turned the bit and extended

the hole horizontally for another 3.8 miles. The total length, 30,746 feet!

Of course, these wells were hydraulically fractured. Nearly all wells are frac'ed

these days. Contrary to what youve been told from the mainstream narrators,

this is a good thing. And its safe. The wells are typically drilled

at least a mile deep, and often much deeper. Groundwater is only 300 to

1,000 feet deep. So, there is a great distance, usually more than

a mile, between the oil and gas resources and groundwater.

After a well is drilled, a pipe, called casing, is inserted into the hole.

Then cement is pumped through the pipe and into the space between the casing

and the well bore wall. That creates a double barrier between the oil and

gas flowing to the surface and the earth surrounding it. In the vertical section

of the well there are typically three to four additional strings of casing

and cement to help protect ground- water. The long laterals being drilled

are incredible, but the frac'ing process itself is pretty amazing.

Once the casing and cement are fully set, engineers insert a plug at the end

of the pipe. They use a perforating gun to punch holes in the casing.

They then pump water, sand, and a small amount of chemicals into the pipe.

The hydraulic pressure fractures the formaHon about 100 feet in each direction.

Sand is used to keep the cracks open. The chemicals lubricate the mixture and

prevent bacteria from growing. The procedure of plugging, perforating, and

frac'ing happens repeatedly across the horizontal length of the well.

Once that is done, the plugs are drilled out, and oil and gas

can begin flowing. Alright, so its all a technical wonder, but

why should you care? Well, you care about the environment and your

energy bills, dont you? A big benefit of much longer lateral

wells is that they produce more oil and natural gas on one well pad

than that of several wells not long ago. That reduces the environmental impact.

On top of that, multiple wells can be drilled from the same pad,

producing even more energy with less impact. This efficiency means the oil

and gas can be produced at lower cost, which translates into savings

on gasoline, diesel, home heating and cooking, electricity, and

countless products made from petrochemicals. And, dont forget

all the high paying jobs that come from American-produced energy.

We appreciate space exploration as much as any other geek. But it doesnt

produce the energy that runs the world, and its arguably not as

complicated. In other words, it may be rocket science, but

its not Geoscience.

For the Clear Energy Alliance, Im Mark Mathis.

Power On.

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