Drill Site Impacts


A view of a Bakken Formation Well Site in North Dakota

The leases have been made, the State Drilling Permits have been granted. Now the process starts.

A five to ten acre site drill will be industrialized for at least a 90 day period of time. After well completion, the site activity will dramatically decrease, however there will still be an increased industrial activity for the life of the well as oil is taken to market, and waste products are taken from the site to be disposed or re-used.

Drill Pad Site Impact

  • The site will be leveled and drilling location staked
  • Access roads with shortest route to pad will be constructed
  • The drilling rig will be moved onto the site
  • The 110 ft drilling rig set upon the site for at least 90 days
  • Mobile housing for 12 to 20 man crews will be set up
  • A drilling mud pit(s) will be dug, and lined with multiple layers of plastic containment and circled with burms

Fracking Impacts

  • Water Tanks will be erected on the site. There may be from 3 to 6 10,000 gallon  above ground storage tanks (depending upon the productivity of the well) that are manifolded together to store reclaimed fracking fluids for disposal or re-injection to other wells
  • Pump Unit(s) will be brought in to pump the fracking fluids into the well bore, they may be electric powered, or perhaps still electric, but powered by a diesel generator.

Fracking Ponds/Vessel Site Impact

  • If the site is of open loop design, 1 to 2 lined and burmed evaporation ponds will be dug. Typically they will be fenced and covered with netting to prevent wildlife from being affected
  • If the site is of closed loop design, (best practice) there will be a containment vessel with attached liquid waste extraction equipment located on the site (See GE Water and Process Technologies Paper )

Transportation Impact – Drill Site and Nearby Access Roads

Crude Oil Tanker

  • Water Trucks
    • Approximately 1 million gallons will be used to drill the well – ideally the well will be air drilled below the lowest aquifer (best practice) to avoid any ground water contamination
    • Approximately 2 to 4 million gallons of water will be used to frack the well
    • Approximately as many as 2000 tanker truck trips may be made to and from the well during a 90 day period for water alone depending on the number and length of the lateral well segments being drilled
  • Crew Impacts – You will have crew rotation every 12 hrs and the personal vehicle trips associated with that
  • Service Company Impact – You will have well logging service companies and regulatory authority trips to the site in un-calculable numbers
  • Crude Oil Trucks – After the well has gone into production, these trucks will be making regular visits to the site. Since oil production usually has a steep decline curve, there will be more visits of these truck during the start of production and as the production declines and becomes more stable, there will be fewer trips needed. Obviously the amount of truck trips will depend on the size of the truck and the amount of daily production of oil.

Road Damage Impact – Site and Nearby Access Roads

  • Due to the increased heavily loaded traffic at the drill site you can expect road damage to occur along with congestion on affected roads and all the associated impacts to wildlife and residential activities expected from a large traffic increase. (The oil companies will of course be expected to repair the damaged areas by the affected county)

Air Quality

  • Local Air quality may be affected by diesel generators running at the site. This is to be expected. Air quality will not normally exceed standards at any industrial site.
  • The Niobrara formation in most locations is an oil play (Wattenberg field and Eastern Nebraska excepted), hence, mostly oil will be produced, however it is common for natural gas to occur in small qualities with the oil. This gas if encountered will be controlled by a blowout preventer during drilling, and any gas will be siphoned off to a condensate tank for disposal. In rural areas, there is the possibility that gas may be flared, but in residential areas it will need to be transported for proper disposal. State regulations for flaring and/or disposal of course apply.

Noise – Site and Adjoining areas

Big Round Hay Bale - Sometimes used for Noise Abatement

Big Round Hay Bale - Sometimes used for Noise Abatement


  • Diesel Truck Traffic at the site – enough said
  • Diesel Engines from the Drill Rig – enough said
  • During drilling, depending on proximity to the drill site, a constant low rumble that sometimes builds to a higher pitch, and vibrations may shake nearby houses rattling windows may be experienced. This will of course depend on how close the nearest inhabited structures are located.  In higher density areas (5 acres or less) noise abatement techniques may be applied to minimize noise concerns. A common low cost form of noise abatement is to take large round hay bales and surround the site until drilling is completed and then they are easily removed
  • While there will be some noise pollution, it is controlled and measured by the COGCC. Access COGCC 800 series Aesthetic and Noise Control Regulations

Wildlife – Site and Adjoining areas

  • As a result of the higher than normal traffic you may have nearby wildlife affected as they may move to quieter areas if able
  • Unfortunately, wildlife attrition may occur due to direct impact with the many trucks frequenting the local area during the drilling process
  • Noise from the diesel engines may force local wildlife inhabitants to move on to less noisy areas
  • If the site has open surface evaporation ponds, wildlife may perish by getting trapped in the ponds if they are not adequately protected
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