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I live near the Kibler well on Brunstetter Road in Lordstown. Can you explain why a massive flame


Published: Mon, July 1, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

I live near the Kibler well on Brunstetter Road in Lordstown. Can you explain why a massive flame looks like it’s bursting from the well? Is that normal?

It is completely normal. Northeast Ohio just isn’t used to the sight yet because not enough drilling has occurred here.

In North Dakota, for example, the flames practically light up the night sky in some areas because the Bakken Shale is more developed than the Utica Shale at this point.

The process is called flaring, and it is a controlled burn of natural gas and a common practice in oil and gas exploration, production and processing.

A flare system consists of a flare stack and pipes that feed gas to the stack. Flare size and brightness are related to the type and amount of gas or liquids in the stack. Flares generate heat and noise. Large flares can be quite noisy because of the volume and velocity of the gas going through the flare stack.

Because natural gas is valuable, companies would rather capture it than flare it. There are several reasons, however, why it may be necessary to flare gas during drilling, production or processing.

During production, after a well is drilled and completed, a temporary flare is used to test the pressure, flow and composition of the oil or gas coming from the well. The test can last a few days or several weeks.

Flare-gas systems also are used to manage small volumes of waste gas that cannot be efficiently captured and returned to a processing or pipeline system.

Pure natural gas is mostly methane, a clean-burning fuel. But it is also a greenhouse gas that, when released directly into the air, traps heat in the atmosphere. Because of this, there are concerns about methane and other volatile organic compounds from oil and gas operations.

The best option is to capture gas from wells, compressors and processing operations for use. In situations where capturing the gas is not possible, it is better for air quality to burn the gas through a flare system rather than vent it directly into the atmosphere.

How much water is used in the fracking process and where does it come from?

The amount of water used in the process depends on the depth of the natural-gas reservoir and the structure of the rock.

A shale well typically uses between 1 million to 8 million gallons of water. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that fracking wells use an average of 2 million to 4 million gallons. Utica shale wells use about 7 million gallons of water.

Water for the wells generally comes from nearby. About half the time, it comes from a public water supply after the drilling company negotiates with a public water authority. The other half comes from a nearby pond or lake. Trucks or waterlines piped directly to the site deliver the water where it is usually stored in a constructed holding area.

More and more, the water is being recycled at one well site for use at another.

Questions about shale development or the fracking

process can be sent to news@shalesheet.com.


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