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Although a proactive approach toward environmental stewardship and implementation of best practices is always the right approach for our industry to take, we must measure periodically the cost benefit ratio and make sure we are managing our business profitably.  With respect to oil and gas well drilling technologies and practices implemented by many operators in their Marcellus Shale operations, an analysis was made to determine the cost benefit ratio of the Fluid Redirection and Substructure Based Catching Pan and Containment Tank.

Case Study:

The case study was done on a well in McKean County, Pennsylvania, and HWD Drilling Rig 8, during the month of August 2011.  The well profile consisted of the following:

  • Surface Casing of 11.75 inches was set at 606 feet
  • Intermediate casing of 8.625 inches was set at 2,901 feet
  • Kick Off Point for the horizontal section was at  4,470 feet
  • The well was at TD and  5.5 inch production casing set at 10,393 feet.

The surface and intermediate well was drilled by a spudder rig, and the HWD # 8 rig was moved in and set up on location on August 2, 2011.  At 17:30 hours on August 3, 2011 the Catching Pan and Containment Tank (Zero Spill System™) or ZSS, was rigged up and made operational.  At 06:00hours on August 6, 2011 the rig picked up drill pipe and reentered the well, running pipe in to drill out and continue the build section.  The well fluids had previously been displaced with ~900 barrels of Pure Star Mineral Base Drilling Fluid, and monitoring of the contained fluids was begun.

Fluid collected from the drilling operation is listed on a daily basis during the drilling program as follows:


7-Aug-11 60 gallons
8-Aug-11 220 gallons
9-Aug-11 228 gallons
10-Aug-11 180 gallons
11-Aug-11 50 gallons
12-Aug-11 410 gallons
13-Aug-11 150 gallons
14-Aug-11 110 gallons
15-Aug-11 50 gallons
16-Aug-11 60 gallons
17-Aug-11 50 gallons
18-Aug-11 40 gallons
19-Aug-11 50 gallons

The Fluid Redirection and Substructure Catching Pans and Containment Tank was provided by an independent service provider, and featured the patented ZSS™ equipment designed and developed by Katch Kan Ltd.  The specific equipment rigged up included the following materials:

  • Kelly Kan (lightweight mud bucket), rigged up for 4 ½” drill pipe
  • 72” diameter Second Stage Low Profile Katch Kan, designed to fit an 11” X 5,000 lb. API pressure flange
  • Adjustable Containment Enclosure, fitted to contain spray from an RCD three feet above the annular BOP
  • 2 – ten foot 4” low pressure hoses connecting from the Low Pro to the containment tank
  • 325 gallon lightweight containment tank

In addition to the above listed equipment, certified rigging equipment was installed during the rig up process to support the weight of the 2nd Stage Low Pro, as well as to raise and maintain the elevation and position of the Adjustable Containment Enclosure.

Finally, a proprietary sealing system was utilized between the base of the 2nd Stage Low Pro and the outer profile of the 11” X 5,000 lb. API flange, to insure the overall integrity of the Catching Pan system and to eliminate any leakage of the captured fluids.

The fluid used to drill the production hole with the HWD #6 rig was Pure Star Mineral Base Drilling Fluid, at $247 per barrel.  The rig was provided by HWD out of Purcell, Oklahoma at ~$18,000 per day.

Total drilling fluid captured and reused amounted to ~40 barrels at the above identified price, for a savings of $9,880.00.

Rig Time Savings from Elimination of Stack Cleaning

  • 3days X 1 man @ $50/hour X 3 hours/cleaning X Hours to Clean Stack = $450.

Rig Time Saving from minimizing rig clean prior to rig moving to new location

  • $750/Hour X 4hours to clean substructure  = $3000

Total Cost Savings per Well = ~$13330


Environmental stewardship and impact minimization are critical success components for any modern oil and gas drilling operation.  Numerous technologies are available to most Operators that offer opportunities for impact minimization.  Some technologies are available which can not only reduce the environmental impact but also reduce costs and lead to a more efficient and cost effective operation.

Many operators have made the commitments necessary to achieve a low impact drilling operation in their Marcellus Shale operations.  Most have implemented the various technologies discussed to help them become better corporate citizens.  The case study demonstrates that certain technologies; i.e. ZSS™ provided by Katch Kan Ltd, can provide a total cost savings that meets and exceeds the upfront expenditures associated with sourcing the service for the oil based drilling portion of a typical Marcellus Shale well.

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