October 3, 2011

Drilling equipment mobilized following completion of characterization well pad

Construction of the characterization well pad at the FutureGen 2.0 storage site in Morgan County has been completed. Drilling equipment will be mobilized to the site the week of October 3 and drilling will begin shortly thereafter. The purpose of the well is to thoroughly characterize the full column of rock, including the Mount Simon sandstone, which is the target formation for CO2 storage. No CO2 will be injected in this well now or in the future.

During construction of the well pad by local union contractor UCM, steps were taken to ensure that the environment is protected. As built, the well pad is surrounded by a berm on three sides that has drainage and erosion controls to ensure that storm water is properly managed. These controls include covering the berms with topsoil and planting grass seed and placing erosion control blankets on slopes, berms, and ditches around the well pad. In addition, a reserve pit has been dug and lined with a rubber liner to contain any excess fluids generated during drilling. Alliance contractor, Patrick Engineering Inc. of Springfield, Ill, conducted testing and quality assurance. All construction activities were performed smoothly with no unforeseen difficulties.

When mobilization of the drilling rig begins, approximately twenty semi-truck loads will be required to move it to the site. Major drilling equipment components will include the drilling rig, a fuel tank, water tanks, pumps for circulating drilling mud, steel pits (tanks) for mud cleaning (i.e., solids settling) and mixing the drilling mud, pipe racks for holding drilling pipe, and a generator/light plant. In addition, two temporary office trailers will be installed at the site.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil and Gas, has approved the Alliance’s permit for drilling. The characterization well will be approximately 5,100 feet deep and drilling is expected to take about 90 days, followed by approximately 3 to 4 weeks of additional on-site characterization activities. Once initiated, drilling will generally occur 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the site design, the berms and temporary trailers are arranged as noise barriers between the site and local residents to minimize potential noise impacts.

After drilling is completed, a wellhead will be installed and the equipment will be removed. The wellhead will allow access to the wellbore for future geologic monitoring. A portion of the gravel pad surrounding the characterization well and an access road will remain for long-term access. The remainder of the site will be restored to its original condition unless the landowners request certain improvements remain (e.g., drainage systems or portions of the gravel pad that might be suitable for hosting various farm facilities).

Part of ensuring public and worker safety is to control site access during drilling. For those interested in visiting the site, please send an email to cplowfield@futgen.org and a tour will be arranged on a case-by-case basis at a prescheduled time.

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