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Stabilising and winterising the well pad

Oilfield Technology,

During the winter of 2011, Shell Appalachia elected to use EarthGuard Fiber Matrix to stabilise its recently constructed well pad. Due to the time of season where winter temperatures impede germination, Shell needed a product that could stabilise its site through the winter snows and spring thaw, while preventing seed and amendments from being washed off the slopes.

Erosion control blankets

Traditionally Shell had battled with the use of erosion control blankets during the winter season. Frozen soils made it difficult to install staples necessary to achieve proper erosion matting installation. Looking for an alternative, they chose EarthGuard.

For site winterisation, an application rate of 10 gal/ac of EarthGuard and 3000 lb./ac of fiber mulch was used.

Initial application.

Erosion and sediment pollution control

According to Pennsylvania 25 Pa. Code Chapter 102 anyone conducting earth disturbance activities is prohibited from discharging any pollutants to waters of the commonwealth. Under the Chapter 102 regulations, anyone conducting earth disturbance activities must use Best Management Practices to minimise the amount of sediment leaving the disturbed area. Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas Regulations, Pa Code Chapter 78.53, incorporate the Chapter 102 regulations by reference. The PA DEP is responsible for the administration and enforcement of Chapters 102 and 78 regulations and the Clean Streams Law.

EarthGuard Fiber Matrix is recognised by the PA DEP in the Final 2010 Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Program Manual as a Polymer Stabilised Fiber Matrix (PSFM). The manual states that erosion control blankets (either rolled or sprayed) should be used on all slopes that are 3H:1V or steeper and where potential exists for sediment pollution to receiving surface waters.


Due to a warm winter, these sites experienced more rain than snow. EarthGuard was able to winterise the site eliminating erosion, satisfying DEP regulators, and creating a situation where the seeds germinated in the spring.

The ability to apply a product in temperatures 20 °F or greater allows exploration companies to stabilise sites throughout the winter while at the same time of having the ability to treat large areas in a short amount of time. The cost savings over erosion control blankets is substantial.

Results in May 2012.

Strong performance

Testing by the Texas DOT has shown that EarthGuard significantly outperforms flexible growth mediums and rolled erosion control blankets in erosion control performance and re-vegetation establishment.

Unlike sprayed-on products such as flexible growth mediums, EarthGuard works directly on the soil to preserve soil structure and significantly reduce turbidity by flocculating dislodged sediment. It does not harden to form a crust that prevents seed germination and growth. This system also requires less fiber mulch which in turn absorbs less water giving vegetation a greater chance of surviving. Less water is also need for application.

Edited for web by Cecilia Rehn

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