As part of our “What in the World Wednesday” contest on our Facebook page, we posted this photo and asked our followers to tell us what it is. Below is the answer as well as a quick summary of what it does and why this matters to those in the energy business:
This is the above-ground portion of a natural gas wellhead. The wellhead sits on top of a natural gas well. After the well has been drilled, the well must be completed. This process includes installation of the wellhead which is equipment at the top of the well that ensures safe operation and manages the flow of natural gas out of the well into the gathering system. Wellhead components include the casing head, the tubing head and the Christmas tree. For a description of these components and what they do, see: http://www.naturalgas.org/naturalgas/well_completion.asp.
While many people are concerned about the impact of gas drilling, many don’t realize that once the well is completed the resulting installation is fairly unobtrusive. So many of the impacts of gas drilling come during the initial process and are not long-term. For a good video on how the drilling process works in a well that must be fracked, see: http://www.marcellus.psu.edu/resources/drilling/index.php.