Putting Safety First in Shale Oil and Gas
Our Shales safety culture touches everything we do, from driving to work to drilling a well. We use multiple safety barriers, proven operating methods, and consistent monitoring to help deliver needed energy in a safe, responsible manner. Our goal is zero incidents in personal, process and transport safety.
At Shell, safety is more than just a word and more than just a priority. Safety drives our actions in our daily activities from exploration through production. Our safety record is built on an operating culture that touches everything we do. Our commitment to Goal Zero means we are always working to improve.
- Strict Standards - While all Shell onshore exploration and production operations comply with federal, state, and provincial regulations, in many cases our design criteria and operating procedures exceed those standards. We believe our practices are among the most comprehensive in the industry. Before beginning a new project, we develop a report identifying and addressing the health, safety, security, and environmental risks for our operation.
- Multiple Barriers - To minimise or eliminate risks in our designs, we use physical barriers including seals, cement casing, blowout preventers, and monitoring equipment. We also use operational barriers such as flow meters, monitor well conditions, and respond to and minimise the impact if a problem should occur.
- Proven Methods - Our operating methods combine experience and state-of-the-art technology to maximize safety and efficiency. Employees and contractors are trained in well safety and well control, and all personnel have the authority -- and are expected -- to stop any activity they deem unsafe.
- Monitoring - Shell has redundant systems to closely monitor flow and pressures within the wellbore. In addition to onsite monitoring, we have operational command centers that give us the capability to observe aspects of our drilling operations remotely. Our employees and contractors are trained to review, detect, and prevent or mitigate abnormal conditions if they occur.
Before We Drill
Before we even begin to drill, we use a set of practices, collectively called a “safety case,” that draws on our experience and expertise to identify and address the inherent risks in exploration and production. This industry best practice helps to confirm:
- Health, safety, and environmental issues are clearly identified and assessed,
- All regulatory and Shell global requirements are met,
- Risks have been removed or mitigated according to a structured, systematic Shell process,
- Critical safety equipment and procedures are identified to manage remaining risks,
- A comprehensive environmental management plan has been developed,
- Social, health, and environment benefits and opportunities are identified, and
- Personnel roles and responsibilities are indicated.
Practicing What We Preach
Our facilities have been designed with safety in mind. As a further precaution, we conduct ongoing safety training in first aid, rescue, incident command, fire response, and emergency response to make sure personnel on site are well prepared to protect both public safety and the environment.
We run frequent internal and first responder safety drills to practice our response and help others understand our safety procedures and communication processes. The following drills are performed depending on the area and requirements:
- ERP (Emergency Response Plan)
- MER (Medical Emergency Response)
- Rescue from Heights
- Well Control
- Abandon Location
- Spill Response
Fire response is integrated with the abandonment of location drills. Well control drills are simulated to time and test well control response. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) response drills are performed where H2S is a potential risk to ensure safe evacuation of all personnel from the drilling site and surrounding area.
Life of an onshore well: finding and producing tight or shale oil and gas | Natural Gas
Title: Life of an onshore well: finding and producing tight or shale oil and gas | Natural Gas
Duration: 5:53 minutes
Life of an onshore well: finding and producing tight or shale oil and gas | Natural Gas Transcript
At Shell we believe natural gas
is an important resource for energy future we also believe it must be
produced safely and responsibly
technology has made it possible
to access gas in oil trapped in tiny spaces in Shaler sand formations
deep under the earth this short video explains how we explore
drill and produce from a well we consider the geology
and local environment to carefully select the well location
this might include gathering seismic data
or information about air wildlife or nearby water sources
we work with the regulators to plan the site
then we begin by building the well pad for operations
during exploration we may draw a single well
are several wells to understand the gas or oil an area
when need rail we are careful to protect the surrounding area
including groundwater we install multiple layers have steel pipe also
and cement around each layer a pipe this is designed to isolate the gas and fluid
in the well
from the potable water table or drinkable water we typically drill
or more than a mile deep beneath the earth to reach the trapped hydrocarbon
then to access gas or oil locked in shale rock
we drill horizontally remains different level designs
depending on the local underground conditions the entire drilling process
can take several weeks or even months for each well drilled from the pad
sensors in the drilling equipment fetus continuous data
as we drown once we reach the bottom of the well
we remove the trail and install steel pipe to the necessary
death based on our engineers design at the well this staff typically takes
only days with many safety checks along the way to be sure we have a good cement
and the well in casing integrity are secure this advanced drilling technology
is one of the keys that make it possible to reach more
the gas or oil trapped far below the surface within the shale
or Sam where after the well is drilled
we remove the red and prepare the well to begin the completions and hydraulic
this is the second key to extracting gas or oil trap
in tights and a shale rock hydraulic fracturing
is a very carefully controlled process that releases the hydrocarbon from the
in which it is trapped we do not hydraulically fracture wells
unless we have successfully pressure tested for wellbore integrity
we lowered tool called a perforating gun
into the wellbore we feed it down to the target location in the well
a well-loved which gives a state about the well
helps us know just where to position the tool
once the perforating tool is in position the fire carefully calibrated charges
perforate the well casing UConn after wealth to the tights and our shale rock
we inject a mix of fluids under pressure
mostly water with sand and chemicals to create fractures in the surrounding
or tights and layer the San pops open the cracks
and allows the gas /url to better well into the well
when possible we treat and reuse the fluid will be covered during fracturing
to minimize the amount of water reuse we support the release of information about
in fracturing fluids we fracture the well
incitements four stages after each stage
we put in a temporary plug to separate the fracture stages
and prevent gas or oil from flowing too soon the number of stages will depend on
the local geology
we repeat this process until we have finished fracturing the link to the
hydraulic fracturing and completing the well
typically lasts only a few days for each well when we are ready
we drill out the plugs this allows the gas or oil to flow into the well
that the well pad the flow is separated into gas and liquids
of the liquids might include oil or water
that was also locked in the rock deep below ground
we collect the water to be reused re injected or disposed of
according to local regulations the gas or oil continues to a pipeline
to provide energy
during exploration if no pipeline is nearby
we may need to temporarily flair or capture the gas
in short term facilities or store the oil in short term tanks on the location
if we decide to develop the area we typically put multiple wells
on a single pad reaching in different directions deep underground
to minimize disturbance to the surface
all our wells insight operations meet government rules
and our own rigorous standards for safety and protecting the environment
once drilling and completions are done
we remove most of our equipment and reduce the size of the well pad
a well typically can produce needed energy
for decades we inspect and maintain well sites regularly
during their productive life when the well is no longer producing
we comply with regulations to cement it closed
test that is sealed remove all equipment and structures
and reclaim the site to blend back into its surroundings
a permanent markers installed to mark the well location
Onshore Oil and Natural Gas Work Area
Shell requires a multiple-layer barrier system in its well designs to reduce risks.
We choose the steel pipe (casing) for each well based on the specific characteristics of the formation. We use cement between each layer of casing; this holds the casing in place and prevents fluids or gas from flowing into the wellbore or between the pipe and the sides of the hole. Additionally, our wellheads have mechanical seals and locks to prevent gas or fluids from moving up the hole along the outside of the casing.
We pressure test barriers within a well, including casing, wellhead, and cement. If a pressure or integrity test does not meet Shell’s standards, we stop and make the appropriate repairs in order to achieve strong barrier integrity. We do not complete wells unless wellbore integrity has been pressure tested and monitored.
The Blowout Preventer
Shell often goes beyond regulatory requirements in terms of safety regarding blowout prevention.
The blowout preventer (BOP) is critical safety equipment featuring a configuration of redundant sealing components, designed to close off and secure a well in the event of a loss of pressure control, commonly referred to as a “blowout.” It is vital that all components of the blowout preventer function as designed and intended – at that crucial moment. At Shell, BOPs undergo internal testing requirements in addition to the testing required by regulatory agencies. Should our testing indicate any abnormality in any part of the blowout preventer, drilling operations are suspended, and the well is secured until the issue is corrected.
Every 14 to 21 days during the onshore drilling process, Shell orders a function and pressure test on the BOP. Before drilling further beyond a casing point and beginning a new section, the BOP is again tested for integrity.
- Annular - Utilizes a donut-shaped rubber element to seal around a variety of pipe sizes to shut in the well when necessary, trapping pressure and wellbore fluids
- Pipe Ram - A high-pressure sealing device that closes around one or a range of pipe sizes to shut in the well
- Blind Ram - A sealing device that is used to shut in the well in the absence of pipe in the hole. It blankets the top of the well, trapping pressure and wellbore fluids
- Kill Line - If the drill pipe becomes inaccessible, drilling mud is pumped into the well here to re-establish well control
- Choke Line - When choking the manifold to reduce the pressure to atmospheric level, the pressurized fluid from the well will flow out of here
- Pipe Ram - (see above)
- Wellhead - Supports all casing and tubing in the well and connects to the blowout preventer
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Shell is involved in several shale projects in North America. We are also active in the Neuquén Basin in Argentina.