QEP’s Independence Pad – an example of safe and responsible development in action – was the first-ever 10-well pad approved and permitted by the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) and located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
The pad is a multi-well Bakken/Three Forks drilling location consisting of five Bakken formation horizontal wells and five Three Forks formation horizontal wells. Each well is drilled approximately 10,000 feet vertically, followed by a lateral leg of approximately 10,000 feet. The pad consists of two separate five well pods. The surface hole locations on each pod are spaced on 28’ centers. The design of the pad and pod layouts allows for mitigating or minimizing both direct and indirect environmental impacts to the surrounding area.
To transform this project from concept to reality, QEP had numerous discussions with multiple stakeholders, including the NDIC, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Tribal Historic Preservation Office, third party archeologists, biologists, botanists, and surveyors to ensure we complied with all Tribal, State, and Federal regulations and guidelines and mitigated environmental impacts.
The consolidation of multiple well heads on a single surface location eliminated the disturbance of an additional 35 surface acres (as measured by a multi-well pad versus single-well pad) and preserved potential and existing wildlife habitats. Our estimated production footprint for all 10 wells and related production facilities is only 3.5 acres.
Additional environmental considerations included: (i) Berming around the exterior boundary of the well pad to provide secondary containment for the wells and operations on the location; (ii) Additional containment for drainages leading water bodies; and (iii) Encapsulation, which is a process of cementing cuttings, to further safeguard groundwater.
Through development of the Independence Pad, QEP was able to lessen truck traffic in the area, resulting in the reduction of dust levels, lower vehicle emissions and reduced impact on local transportation infrastructure. The Pad also minimized the impact on wildlife and helped to maintain the integrity of the surrounding native prairie, while allowing for responsible development of the minerals. Finally, out of consideration for Lake Sakakawea, we consolidated our production facilities and operations in a manner that allowed us to maintain surrounding views. This model allowed QEP to capture the oil and gas reserves in leased acreage under the Lake, while maintaining the natural beauty and integrity of the surrounding landscape on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.