At BNK, we believe the risk associated with well operations, including those involving horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, is very low, yet it is important for us to manage these risks effectively. Proper wellsite selection, well design, construction and operating procedures are critical to protect against spills and failures of surface equipment or wells that could contaminate water supplies.
Multiple Safeguards Protect Our Groundwater
A well is much more than a pipe in the ground. It is constructed with redundant barriers of steel and cement designed to protect aboveground and underground sources of water throughout the life of the well.
Looking at a cross section of a well, the uppermost structure typically includes a steel conductor casing to stabilize the ground at the well surface and also includes surface casing. The surface casing extends to depths below potential freshwater aquifers in accordance with government regulations and is cemented in place to protect useable groundwater. Inside the surface casing, there may be one or more intermediate casings. The innermost structure is the production casing that extends to the bottom of the well. Cement is pumped into the open space between each casing and the rock, forming a complete seal with multiple layers of protection. The casing and cement system is pressure tested to ensure its integrity.
Beyond these mechanical safeguards, groundwater is protected by physical factors, such as large vertical distances and the presence of natural geologic barriers. These barriers can consist of multiple layers of impermeable rock that separate the target formations from aquifers by thousands of meters.
BNK commits to protecting groundwater and surface water by adhering to strict well integrity procedures and safe water management practices at the surface. We:
- Design and construct our wellsites with several impermeable barriers against the potential for surface spills. See our wellsite construction section
- Design and construct new wells with multiple barriers to isolate and protect freshwater zones
- Monitor system pressures during drilling and completion activities
- Use air or freshwater-based fluids to prevent water contamination when drilling through freshwater zones
- Capture produced and flowback fluids from well operations in steel tanks and manage these fluids according to government-approved methods
- Follow stringent site-closure requirements at the end of a well’s productive life including setting cement plugs and/or mechanical barriers in the wellbore to isolate oil and natural gas from freshwater sources
BNK implements water management practices to use this vital resource efficiently. We:
- Work collaboratively with government agencies to identify and permit appropriate water sources for well operations
- Assess, measure and monitor our freshwater usage