Sampling Program Supports Natural Gas Drilling Initiatives

Man taking a dirt sample from a hold in the snow

Client Challenge

A US-based energy company invests in the development of unconventional onshore oil and natural gas assets. Its commitment to responsible and safe operations requires collection of voluminous data related to drinking and domestic water quality at potential and approved natural gas drilling sites. Data are collected prior to any drilling activities to establish a baseline of water quality prior to well construction and operation. Quality control – of data, record keeping, and data management processes – must meet the highest standards to ensure legal and liability protection for the company.

GES Solution

GES supported a regional shale development project with close to 500 environmental baseline sampling studies across several Appalachian shale plays. The comprehensive program encompassed all domestic water sources such as water wells, groundwater aquifers, streams, ponds, and springs for human or livestock users located near planned drilling sites.

GES’ program combined project management, IT and data validation, quality assurance, and field sampling components. With work that must proceed in rural, remote, and diverse private properties under widely varying topology and weather conditions, GES staff were provided with extensive training and supervision. This ensured safe performance and successful interaction with property owners and potential wildlife encounters. Under higher-risk conditions, GES used remote tracking and communication devices to ensure staff safety and security.

GES data specialists established an environmental management system to manage geographic and hydrogeologic data and associated documentation of property investigation, sample collection, chain of custody, and other procedures. The EQuIS Data Gathering Engine (EDGE) was used as a set of integrated environmental field tools for accurate and complete data collection. GES’ data validation team provided rigorous QA/QC and worked closely with approved analytical laboratories to ensure rapid and accurate data analysis and reporting as per client specifications. The field teams were trained in and followed specific sampling methods for methane gas, isotopic, and bacterial concentrations, as appropriate.

Client Value

GES established collection, submittal, and review processes that would expedite the communication of field electronic data deliverables (EDDs) in compliance with state regulatory requirements. GES also served as the company’s representative to communicate findings to property owners, in support of the client’s objectives for responsible operations. Within this pre-drill baseline sampling program, GES teams collected and managed the analysis of over 13,600 samples with no reportable health and safety incidents and a focus on data that is fully documented and legally defensible.