During construction of the well site, the actual drilling and final well completion, you may see activity and hear noises that appear unusual. Initially, residents will be see bulldozers clearing the site and large trucks delivering equipment. A drilling rig, usually about 120 to 165 feet tall, will be set up and a crew will be on site 24 hours a day to oversee the drilling operation. A chain link fence with fabric screening will be installed for safety and inspections will be made by the Railroad Commission and the City.
After the hole, or wellbore, is drilled a process called "fracturing" takes place. Fracturing requires dozens of trucks with large pumps to send water down the well to make cracks in the Barnett Shale, which allows the gas to flow. The fracturing process can be noisy and may take 5 to 6 days to complete. The City regulates the hours of operation during the fracturing process and inspects the site to make sure all regulations and safety requirements are met. The water that is used for fracturing is hauled away for safe disposal.
When the fracturing is completed and natural gas finally flows up the wellbore, the initial gas to rise up will be burned off, or flared. This can be seen as bright flames from vent stacks, even when the well is a good distance away. These sights and sounds are normal and temporary. Once this is completed - usually in just a few days - everything will return to normal and production begins.
Equipment is installed to allow the gas to flow safely from the well to nearby pipelines and then on to power plants, factories and even homes. During the production phase the site is quiet and has a minimal impact. Production sites will be monitored daily by the production company and will be inspected regularly by the City. An 8 foot tall masonry wall and landscaping will surrounding the wells for safety and to screen them from the public view after they are put into production.
In communities where drilling is already taking place, the most common complaints during the drilling process are about noise and lighting. The City will monitor noise levels and can require additional sound muffling devices if noise exceeds the levels specified in the Gas Well Drilling and Production Ordinance. Lights at the gas well sites will be directed downward and shielded to prevent illumination of public roads, dwellings and buildings within 600 feet.
The City of North Richland Hills has a gas inspector on staff who makes regular inspections throughout this process to ensure that ordinances and safety standards are being followed.