hydraulic wells and groundwater protection

Developing energy from shale (and other tight-rock
formations) using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal
drilling takes four to eight weeks – from preparing the
site for development to production itself – after which the
well can be in production up to 40 years.10 A well can
be a mile or more deep and thousands of feet below
groundwater zones vertically, before gradually turning
horizontal. The horizontal portion then can stretch more
than 6,000 feet. A single well site can accommodate
numerous wells. Steel pipe known as surface casing is
cemented into place at the uppermost portion of a well
to protect the groundwater.

As the well is drilled deeper, additional casing is installed
to isolate the formation(s) from which oil or natural gas is
to be produced, further protecting groundwater from the
producing formations in the well. Numerous protective
measures are in place at well sites, including liners under
well pads, rubber composite mats under rigs, storage
tanks with secondary containment measures, and
barriers to control any potential runoff.