Sometimes it’s a dirty job.
Last fall, the AER and Alberta Health kicked off a study to discover what substances are present during the “flowback” phase of hydraulic fracturing operations and whether they pose a risk to human health and the environment. The study involves collecting gas and aerosol samples during the flowback period, which are then sent to a lab for analysis.
The study’s sampling phase wrapped up recently on a mucky day at a wellsite near Drayton Valley. Here’s a look at how AER staff used high- and low-tech means to get the job done in the mud.
What’s in the flare? The site of the last of eight wells the AER sampled.
Makeshift solutions: AER field inspectors, Stefan Bittner, Dean Thompson, and Barry Smith find creative ways to cope with the mud before the testing begins. Sometimes wooden pallets and cardboard are just what you need to get on solid ground.
Home away from home: AER staff take shelter to collect gas and aerosol samples from a pipeline running between the separator and the flare stack.
Inside the testing tent: AER field inspector, Dean Thompson, gets ready to collect samples and checks the sampling apparatus, which was designed and constructed specifically for this study.
Down to business: AER field inspectors, Jeffrey MacInnis and Dean Thompson collecting samples. Samples are collected every three hours over the course of 12 to 15 hours and then sent to an accredited lab for analysis to determine the composition and concentrations of the substances in the flowback stream.
Just keep smiling: AER field inspector Barry Smith in good spirits despite the long day of getting stuck in the muck.
Teamwork: A few members of the AER’s flowback project team onsite on the last day of well testing. (Left to right: Dean Thompson, Michael Brown, Monica Hermary, Uche Ezike-Dennis, Jim Spangelo, Jeffrey MacInnis).