It’s a proven fact that everything is bigger in Texas.
Texas-sized is an expression that can be used in two ways: to describe something that is approximately the size of the U.S. state of Texas, or to describe something (usually but not always originating from Texas) that is large compared to other objects of its type. Wikipedia
But did you know the Railroad Commission (RRC) could screw up our Texas-sized persona with an “annular gap” requirement that falls short?
The RRC has been very busy lately updating some of their rules. The rule for well integrity, which I blogged about in December, could be a much needed improvement in protecting our water. The article at that link states:
The rules would strengthen oversight of well casing, the pipe that lines a well, along with cement jobs, the layer of leak defense that wraps around the casing.
The cement fills the “annular gap” or “annulus.” If you look at the diagram of the annulus HERE, you will see why bigger is better and why the RRC must get this right!
Scott Anderson emphasizes the importance in his blog post last week.
This “annular space” (or “annular gap”) is supposed to be filled with cement as necessary to isolate groundwater from pollution, protect the casing from corrosion, and prevent gas from migrating to places it does not belong.
Remember what happened with the 2011 Chesapeake blowout in Oklahoma: A leaking casing allowed gas to migrate and form a shallow pocket right where Chesapeake was drilling another well. This caused a blowout, which wasn’t brought under control for 6 days.
What’s at stake at the RRC is a weak “annular gap” requirement of .5 inches which is too short to satisfy anyone..
According to the Austin rumor mill, some in industry and in the RRC consider requiring annular gaps greater than .5 as a “heavy lift.” Aw, come on! Eat your spinach, stand strong and do the right thing. Texans deserve your best effort. We have to live with the cement for the life of the well and we will be more satisfied with a rule that requires .75″ or more!
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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1/2 inch ain’t enough for a cement annulus. If the inner casing is not centralized then 1/2 inch gets even smaller. !/2 inch cement annulus does not allow but a few feet of cement upward migration. In short is’t just typical of the RRC—only 1/2 inch long!