Sunday, December 16, 2007

Smaller Footprint, Less Impact

Environmentalists, deeply embedded in the heated debate over drilling within the Arctic National Wildlife refuge, are up at arms mostly because of the negative effects drill sites render upon the environment and the indigenous creatures that live and migrate across this large Alaskan expanse. Looking at drill sites of the 1900s to the 1970s, it is easy to see the concern. Drilling and exploration took up many an acre for their large, cumbersome machinery and production facilities. For instance, the Prudhoe Bay oil field, just several miles west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, erected in the 1970s, consisted of 5000 acres of gravel, necessary for roads, drilling, and production facilities. Most of this area, in hindsight, was negligent and unnecessary. Improvements in efficiency during the following decades have made it possible to decrease this use of land by 60%, allowing for less encroachment upon the wild landscape of Alaska and other regions.

New developments in drilling have allowed drills to be more directional and extend their reach to reservoirs often three miles from the surface drilling location. In past decades, drills could only reach at most a mile and a half outward from the original drill site, necessitating the construction of more roads and more drills in order to fully explore the designated area. This advancement allows oil companies a deeper reach beneath the surface by each particular drill, so that they need not be moved across these virginal soils, resulting in less disturbance of the tundra. Other developments have made it possible to construct individual wells and their drill pads much closer together than in the past. In earlier decades, drill pads and production wells needed to be spaced no closer than 100 feet or more apart. Today, technological advancements in drilling techniques has allowed new drill sites to be much closer together than ever before, often as close as requiring only ten feet between each individual drill site. The number of wells that necessitated 65 square acres in the 1970s can now be built on a much smaller parcel of land, requiring less than nine acres today.

A promising advancement has been made in road construction itself. In the past, the roads were all built from gravel mounded atop the surface of the frozen tundra. Today, engineering has made it possible to build many of the roads necessary for exploration out of ice instead. When these roads melt, after exploration is complete, they simply absorb into the landscape leaving nary a trace of their existence. Triple Diamond Energy Corp and other oil providing ventures are working daily to develop new and exciting ways to extract the necessary oil possible for the United States, while performing their due diligence of keeping the environment intact for its enjoyment in years to come.

About the Author: Robert Jent is the president of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

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