CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Natural gas drilling will begin within the next month about 400 yards from Capital High School in Charleston.
The last hurdle for drilling to begin was cleared Thursday when the Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved a permit for Reserve Oil & Gas to build a well on Kanawha County Board of Education property.
The well will be southwest of the high school, about 300 yards north-northeast from the intersection of Greenbrier Street and Coonskin Drive.
Doug Douglass, the land manager for Reserve Oil & Gas, said building the well site would take about a week, and then drilling would take two more weeks. Douglass said drilling would be entirely during the daytime on weekdays, except for possibly one or two nights at the end of the drilling process.
Once the drilling is complete, the well should pump, largely unattended, for up to 50 years, Douglass said.
He said the sound during drilling is about 95 decibels, a level the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put on par with power tools or a snowmobile.
The well site has moved about 100 feet closer to the school than the original site, proposed last year. That site was too close to residences off Coonskin Drive. The well must be at least 500 feet from any structures.
The company plans to build a shallow vertical Devonian Shale natural gas well. The well will be about 4,700 feet deep.
The well will not use hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, in which millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand or chemicals, is pumped down the well at high pressure to fracture the underlying shale and release the gas, Douglass said.
The shale will be fractured with pressurized nitrogen gas, rather than the water-based slurry used in fracking.
The fracture will occur 1,800 feet below the surface, according to the application Reserve Oil & Gas filed with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
That application says, at the drill site, there is a layer of fresh groundwater at a depth of about 200 feet and salt water at depths up to about 1,200 feet.
The DEP approved Reserve's application on June 26.