>>> Guest post by Scott Roberts, P.G.
Blogging…..add this to something that I never thought I’d be doing. It’s very interesting new territory for a self-described ‘Fred Flintstone'. Nonetheless, I have been asked to provide you with my observations and thoughts on the hot button issues, legislative developments, misconceptions, events and any other items of interest that I may stumble across related to the drilling for, and production of natural gas. Given such a large field of inquiry and being a person with thoughts and opinions on most anything, I see no reason not to give it a go.
From all reports it appears that, despite the fluids from the well reaching a stream, the stream’s ecosystems were not impacted. That is good news. But the bad news is that a well control failure is, obviously, a failure and, as such, should be prevented to the greatest degree possible. Some will say it never should have happened, others will say it can’t be fully prevented except by outlawing natural gas exploration and production.
What I say is that we need to need to face the fact that we are all human and ‘to err is human’. I say that the inalienable right recognized by the Declaration of Independence of the ‘pursuit of happiness’ by definition recognizes that not all pursuits will be successful and that, therefore, failure is also an inalienable human right. I say that, when those two premises are combined, perfection is not achievable. Finally, as a conclusion to this line of thought, that how we deal with the failures that occur is a more important measure of character than the much more commonplace finger-pointing. So, I say, it happened.
We should learn from it, and that we should use those lessons to minimize the potential for the same accident to happen again.
Next, both industry and regulators will cycle of the lessons learned from the investigation back into the system design. None of this should be done to point fingers since no amount of fingers pointing can change the fact that a failure happened. At the same time the standard should be no failures and iterative application of lessons learned is the only real world way of approaching that standard.
As I opined above, zero failures is the only acceptable standard. But this accident adds one more well to the perhaps 20 or 25 other Marcellus wells that have had problems or failures. So, the fact is that roughly 99% of the 3,075 Marcellus wells drilled from 2005 to April 22nd have not had a failure. That’s a really high success rate for mere mortals, especially given the complexity of the tasks involved in drilling and completing a modern gas well. It may not reach the standard but it certainly demonstrates to me a commitment by industry to do things right.
So, that’s my first blog. Yabba-dabba-do.