It doesn’t take a petroleum engineer to see how far fracking has come since its first successful use on a Marcellus shale well 10 years ago.
Bird’s-eye view photos of Range Resources Corp.’s work sites at the Renz well it completed in Washington County in 2004 and a more recent well illustrate a decade of improving environmental safeguards and production techniques.
The earlier view shows mounds of dirt where Fort Worth-based Range, which at the time was focused on exploring the shale’s potential, cut into a Mt. Pleasant hillside with few erosion or spill-prevention safeguards in place.
“We just scratched the surface,” said Dennis Degner, vice president of Southern Marcellus operations at the company’s office in Cecil.
The modern frack job takes place on a stone-covered well pad, lined and buffered to control spills and reduce disturbances, with tanks and equipment already in place to handle water, sand and eventual gas production.
“There’s really a complete paradigm shift in environmental stewardship,” Degner said.