Abandoned Well – A well that is no longer in use. Can be dry, inoperable or no longer productive.
Acid Mine Drainage – The outflow of acidic water from where the earth has been disturbed. Acid mine drainage has raised long-term ecological and economic concerns.
Act 13 – Signed into law by Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett. This law will further protect the environment as well as tighten the regulations on the natural gas industry.
Annulus – A part, structure, or marking resembling a ring.
Appalachian Basin – The geologic formations that roughly follow the Appalachian Mountain range.
Aquifer – Underground bed or layer yielding ground water for wells and springs.
Blowout Preventer – A large, specialized valve used to seal, control and monitor oil and gas wells.
Brine – A salt water and chemical mix that is produced after fracking a well. This liquid comes out of the ground with very high Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) levels and often toxic substances such as barium and strontium. After use in fracking, brine must be treated as contaminated waste water.
Bundled Service – Gas sales service and transportation service packaged together in a single transaction in which the pipeline, on behalf of the utility, buys gas from producers and then delivers it to the utility.
Casing – Used to line the walls of a gas well to prevent collapse of the well. It is also used to protect the surrounding earth and rock layers from being contaminated by petroleum, or the drilling fluids.
Christmas Tree – A term given to the series of pipes and valves that sits on top of a producing gas well. Also used in place of a pump to extract the gas from the well.
Clean Water Act – The federal law that regulates discharges into waterways.
Closed Loop System – Refers to drillers operating with a water cycle that is never exposed to the open air, unlike containment ponds.
Coalbed Methane – A form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent debates, it has become an important source of energy in the United States.
Compression – Natural gas is compressed during transportation and storage. When being transported through pipelines, and when being stored, gas is compressed to save space. Pipelines have compressing stations installed along the line (one about every 100 miles) to ensure that the gas pressure is held high while the gas is being transported.
Compressor Station – A facility which helps the transportation process of natural gas from one location to another.
Containment Ponds – Man-made ponds intended to capture waste from drilling sites.
Cryogenic Plant – A type of natural gas processing plant that uses low temperatures to condense the collected natural gas to a liquid state.
Cubic Foot – A unit of measurement for volume. It represents an area one foot long, by one foot wide, by one foot deep. Natural gas is measured in cubic feet.
Delaware River Basin Commission – This multi-state agency includes the governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York on its board. It has been at the center of the debate over drilling in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – The state agency that issues permits and enacts leasing policy for drilling on state-owned lands. The DCNR does not regulate wells.
Department of Environmental Protection – This state agency has permitting and primary regulatory authority over the natural gas industry in the state.
Directional Drilling – The process that allows drillers to sink a well to a certain depth and then aim it in a lateral direction toward a target area. Allows greater access to hard to reach stores of gas or oil and it means drillers can cover more territory with one well.
Drill Bit – The cutting part of a drill; usually pointed and threaded and is replaceable in a brace or bitstock.
Drill Pipe – A hollow, thick-walled, steel piping that is used on drilling rigs to facilitate the drilling of a wellbore and comes in a variety of sizes, strengths, and weights. They are hollow to allow drilling fluid to be pumped through them, down the hole, and back up the annulus.
Drilling Mud – The oil or water based liquid compound used to lubricate and cool working drills. The specific ingredients vary according to company and drill site. As with fracking fluids, exploration and production companies are not required to publish the ingredients or their specific formulas.
Dry Gas – Contains low amounts of condensable compounds making it more “pipeline ready.” Gas is considered to be “dry” when it is composed of almost entirely methane.
Environmental Protection Agency – Federal agency that regulates industrial impacts on the environment.
Ethane Cracker – Stream cracking plant in the petrochemical industry. Hydrocarbons are transformed into unsaturated hydrocarbons by thermal cracking using steam.
Evaporation Pits – A common brine disposal technique intended to recover the brine product. Best used in arid regions because rainfall will hinder the process. As with containment ponds, there are concerns regarding overflow and air pollution.
Exploration and Production companies – The first step in the process of harvesting natural gas; they find the natural gas, drill, and get the gas out of the ground.
Fault – Occurs when a part of the earth’s crust fractures due to forces by movement of plates on the earth’s crust. With regard to natural gas, faults are of interest because they often form traps.
Firm Service Contract – A type of contracted service where the distributor agrees to provide the buyer with uninterrupted supply of gas. This type of contract is usually more expensive, and is used primarily by those firms who cannot afford to risk loss of fuel for any period of time.
Fish and Boat Commission – Because of the Marcellus gas drilling impact on waterways, this state department has also emerged as an active regulator of Marcellus shale drilling in Pennsylvania.
Flowback Water – After the fracking procedure is complete and pressure is released, the water and excess proppant flow up through the wellbore to the surface. Both the process and the returned water is referred to as “flowback.”
Fluid Leakoff – The process by which injected fracturing fluid migrates from the created fractures to other areas within the hydrocarbon containing formation.
Formation – A body of earth material with distinctive and characteristic properties.
Frack Fluid – This is the water-based compound drillers use to fracture the shale. It’s composed of very large amounts of water mixed with any number of chemicals, plus sand. It is pumped into wells under very high pressure to break up underground rock formations, which in turn, releases natural gas.
Frack Water Recycling – The reuse of water or brine that comes up out of the well after the shale has been fractured. Companies treat the used fluid and dilute it with new fresh water.
Ground Water – The supply of fresh water found beneath the earth’s surface, usually in aquifers, which supply wells and springs. Provides a major source of drinking water.
Held By Production – A legal process that allows exploration and production companies to extend the terms of the original contract for lease and royalties for the life of a producing well, even if that term goes beyond the stipulated term of the original lease.
Horizontal Drilling – Horizontal Drilling is the most rapidly growing movement in the industry. Essentially, in addition to the vertical shaft in an oil or gas well, special equipment allows producers to extend horizontal shafts into areas that could not otherwise be reached.
Horizontal Well – Atechnique in well drilling common to shale gas production that allows for fewer drill sites.
Hydraulic Fracturing – Refers to a method used by producers to extract more natural gas from a well by opening up rock formations using hydraulic or explosive force.
Hydraulic Fracturing Water Lifecycle – The lifecycle of water in the hydraulic fracturing process, encompassing the acquisition of water, chemical mixing of the fracturing fluid, injection of the fluid into the formation, the production and management of flowback and produced water, and the ultimate treatment and disposal of hydraulic fracturing wastewaters.
Impact Fee – Imposed by commissioners. A fee charged to the drillers for wells placed on county land. Money is usually set to be based on a formula that uses the number of wells in each community or based on how close the community is to an active Marcellus well.
Impoundment – A body of water or sludge confined by a dam, floodgate, or other barrier.
Independent Producer – A non-integrated company which receives nearly all of its revenues from production at the wellhead. They are exclusively in the exploration and production segment of the industry, with no marketing or refining within their operations.
Injection wells – Deep wells used worldwide to dump contaminants, often suspended in water. They are used by many industries and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Land Pooling – A legal process that allows exploration and production companies to compel unwilling land and mineral rights holders to lease or sell their land and/or mineral rights for exploration, drilling, or pipeline installation if enough of their neighbors have already agreed. Government agencies require a minimum number of acres of land before granting a well permit; with pooling, companies can collect smaller tracts of land that will accumulate to this total minimum acreage
Landman – An agent who works for a drilling company or who is contracted by a drilling company or broker. The mission of a landman is to negotiate the lowest possible lease price and most advantageous terms for the gas company. When you are approached by a landman, it is best to seek advice from a lawyer.
Law of Capture – States that is a well is drilled on a property, anything that comes up from that well belongs to the owner of that property.
Lease Rates – How much a company pays for land or mineral rights. These are typically executed in five-year increments.
Liquified Natural Gas – Natural gas converted to a liquid for transport or storage.
Logging – Logging refers to the lowering of different types of measuring instruments into the wellbore and gathering and recording data. This data is then used to construct subsurface maps of a region to aid in further exploration.
Magsat Satellite – The Magsat is a satellite launched by NASA in 1981 that is used to study magnetic fluctuations in the earth’s crust.
Marcellus Shale – Shale is one of the most highly productive types of sedimentary rock whose density provides tight stores forhydrocarbon reserves below. Marcellus Shale is a rock formation running through about two-thirds of Pennsylvania, and areas of New York and West Virginia. Geologists estimate that there is a large enough natural gas reserve within the shale to power the United States for one to eight years.
Methane – Methane, commonly known as natural gas is the most common hydrocarbon gas. It is colorless and naturally odorless, and burns efficiently without many by products.
Mineral Rights – Legal rights that allow for search and removal of minerals on a particular parcel of land.
Most Efficient Recovery – The MER, or most efficient recovery rate, is based on the most oil and gas that can be extracted for a sustained period of time without harming the formation
Muds – Muds are used in drilling to lubricate the drilling bit in rotary drilling rigs. These fluids cool the bit, remove cuttings and debris, and coat the wellbore.
Natural Gas – A naturally occurring mixture of hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon gases beneath the earth’s surface – often in association with petroleum.
Naturally Occuring Radioactive Materials – All radioactive elements found in the environment, including long-lived radioactive elements such as uranium, thorium, and potassium and any of their decay products, such as radium and radon.
Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act – State law that gives the Department of Environmental Protection regulatory and permitting authority over the oil and gas industry.
Pipeline – Underground or surface tubing or piping that is installed across states, countries and continents to deliver fuel. New pipelines are being built in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to transport natural gas, liquid natural gas, and water to make gas production more economical.
Produced Water – After the drilling and fracturing of the well are completed, water is produced along with the natural gas. Some of this water is returned fracturing fluid and some is natural formation water. These produced waters move back through the wellhead with the gas.
Producer – A natural gas producer is generally involved in exploration, drilling, and refinement of natural gas. There are independent producers, as well as integrated producers, which are generally larger companies that produce, transport and distribute natural gas.
Propping Agent – An additive to the frack fluid, allowing gas to seep into the well bore.
Public Utilities Commission – A governing body that regulates the rates and services of a public utility.
Public Water System –
Pugh Clause – A provision or addendum in a gas lease agreement that addresses whether the entire parcel of land will be held under a lease agreement, if only a portion of the leased land is developed. Specific terms of a Pugh Clause can greatly vary among lease agreements.
Pumping Station – These pump natural gas through pipelines at a rate of about 700 million cubic feet per day. They tend to be situated 50 to 100 miles apart.
Residential Well – A pumping well that serves one home or is maintained by a private owner.
Rig – The physical apparatus used to drill and frack wells. These are large portable operations that are assembled on site and disassembled when the well has been capped or brought into production.
Roughneck – Workers who maintain and operate a drill rig; usually unskilled or semi-skilled manual laborers.
Royalties – The amount exploration and production companies pay to the mineral rights owners of a producing well. Pennsylvania state law requires this rate be no less than 12% of the market price per 1000 cubic feet of gas on the day that gas comes out of the ground
Safe Drinking Water Act – Federal law that regulates drinking water quality.
Shale – A fine grained sedimentary rock composed mostly of consolidated clay or mud. Shale is the most frequently occurring sedimentary rock.
Shale Basin – An underground deposit of shale,often in a layer that extends along a plane at a certain depth under the surface. There are many different types of shale, each with certain defining characteristics.
Shale Cuttings – Small pieces of rock that break away during the drilling process. Cuttings are screened out of the liquid mud by using shale shakers, or screens that allow the liquid to pass through but filter out the bits of rock.
Shale Gas – Natural gas trapped in a shale formation.
Source Water – Operators may withdraw water from surface or ground water sources themselves or may purchase it from suppliers.
Spot Market – A product of deregulation, the spot market is a method of contract purchasing whereby commitments by the buyer and seller are of a short duration at a single volume price.
Stripper Wells – Stripper wells are natural gas wells that produce less than 60,000 cubic feet of gas per day.
Subsurface – Earth material (as rock) near but not exposed at the surface of the ground.
Surface Casing – The first string of casing put into a well. Surface casing is cemented into bedrock and serves to shut out shallow water formations and as a foundation for well control during drilling operations.
Surface Water – All water naturally open to the atmosphere (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, streams, impoundments, seas, etc.)
Susquehanna River Basin Commission – Regulatory body that governs water withdrawals from the Susquehanna River, but it does not have regulatory control over what flows into the river.
The Department of Environmental Conservation – In the state of New York. Combines a single agency all state programs designed to protect and enhance the environment.
The Frack Act – The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act seeks to reverse some of the policies enacted in the 2005 energy policy and compel full disclosure of the chemicals, and specifically the concentrations of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Currently, the amount of each chemical is considered proprietary information.
Tight Gas – Natural gas found in reservoirs with low porosity and low permeability. It can be compared to drilling a hole into a concrete driveway–the rock layers that hold the natural gas are very dense, therefore the gas doesn’t flow easily.
Tight Sands – A geological formation consisting of a matrix of typically impermeable, non-porous tight sands.
Total Dissolved Solids – The amount of salt and minerals that are suspended in water. TDS occur naturally in groundwater, but at high concentrations, TDS can be corrosive, and can cause ground (drinking) water to be classified as contaminated.
Tripping Pipe – The physical act of pulling the drill string out of the wellbore and then running it back in.
Turbidity – A cloudy condition in water due to suspended silt or organic matter.
Unbundled Services – Unbundling, or separating, pipeline transmission, sales and storage services, along with guaranteeing ‘open access’ to space on the pipelines for all gas shippers.
Unconventional Fuels – Any fuels that companies produce in ways other than traditional vertical oil wells. These include shale gasses and coal bed methane.
Underground Gas Storage – The use of sub-surface facilities for storing gas that has been transferred from its original location for the primary purpose of load balancing.
Vertical Wells – Traditional gas and oil well techniquethat bores straight down into a reserve. Vertical wells may be cheaper to develop, but are considered to have a larger environmental footprint.
Wastewater Wells – A vertical pipe in the ground into which water, other liquids, or gases are pumped or allowed to flow.
Well Bore – This is the entire length of hole that the drill makes in the ground; there is a great deal of engineering software for the design and casing of a well bore.
Well Casing – Steel or cement containment that is installed on the inside of the well bore intended to keep gas or oil from seeping out of the wells into the surrounding ground.
Well Pads – Area that has been cleared for a drilling rig to work on a plot of land designated for natural gas and oil extraction.
Wet Gas – Natural gas that contains natural gas liquids, which are heavier than gaseous methane. Some of these, such as propane, butane, pentane, hexane, and heptane, may come out of the well in liquid form or may need to be processed. The Marcellus shale gas in Washington County has been described as a wet gas. Natural gas liquids are considered valuable by-products of natural gas processing.