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Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
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Oil or Gas Exploration Phase: Resource Requirements and Impact Sources

Potential impacts from exploration would affect a limited area. Most impacts would be temporary.

The following describes the factors that could affect whether an environmental impact could occur during the exploration phase. The factors that could cause environmental impacts from the establishment of exploratory wells would be similar to those for constructing production wells.

  • Acreage – An exploratory well would occupy about 3 acres or less; while any access roads required would occupy about 2.5 acres per mile.
  • Emissions - Primarily dust and exhaust from vehicles and from drill rig operation. Exploratory drilling and testing emissions could include natural gas, other VOCs, PAHs, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide.
  • Waste GenerationDrilling muds, organic acids, diesel oil, acidic stimulation fluids, drill cuttings, dispersants, corrosion inhibitors, surfactants, flocculating agents, paraffins, and sanitary wastes.
  • Water Needs – Moderate amount of water would be required for exploratory wells.
  • Workforce – Small crews to conduct surveys and install and operate exploratory wells.
  • Time – Construction of an exploratory well pad and access roads could take more than 20 days to construct. It could take about three months to drill an individual well, depending primarily upon the depth of the well.
  • Utility Requirements – Electricity needed to support on-site operations would be supplied by electric generators that run on diesel fuel.