Richard Ha writes:
Bill 292, which proposes to stop geothermal drilling at night, goes before the Hawai‘i County Council this Friday. If you’d like to comment on this bill, send your testimony to [email protected].
I want to share with you some testimony, sharply criticizing this bill, that comes from Hank Banquer, probably the most experienced oil and gas driller on the Big Island. He lives here, but works all over the world. Right now he’s in Texas.
To the County Council:
As a member of the Big Island Energy Advisor Commission (EAC) and having spent 35 years in the drilling industry, I think this proposal to stop drilling at night is absurd.
Firstly, drilling has gone on and continues to go on in densely settled areas with little problem with noise. Some noise abatement practices can be adopted to reduce the noise, but in general 24 hour drilling is practiced everywhere, including in downtown Los Angeles where it has gone on unnoticed for decades, and in a state (California) where the environmental laws are the strictest, in fact are often the benchmark for many practices and even federal policies.
There are dangers, major delays and ultimately cost implications in doing this.
You just cannot stop drilling, circulating or stop operating realistically for several reasons:
1. Control of the well
2. Temperature build up.
There are 2 temperatures we deal with while drilling:
a. Static temperature
b. Circulating temperature
If the hole is left static for 12 hours, then there are many issues that would need to be dealt with that raise the cost, safety and/or viability of drilling:
3. Time lost and the time to drill the hole would not be 2 times longer but in fact maybe 3-4 times longer
4. Open hole (not cased hole) dynamic conditions which can result in stuck pipe, redrilling or reaming of the open hole.
5. Having to trip (run the pipe in and out of the well bore) once every 12 hours would leave little time to drill and just expose the well bore, crew and environment to more risks.
6. Tripping the pipe into the casing where it is protected while drilling is stopped or pulling the drill pipe out of the hole completely takes time and is particularly noisy as you are handling the drill pipe in and out of the hole. This can be mitigated with certain pipe handling equipment but it is still not "quiet."
7. Engine noise can be mitigate many ways from sound proofing to using a diesel electric rig where the engines run at a constant speed as opposed to changing RPM as the draw works (large winch) pulls the pipe in or out.
8. The bangs and clangs associated with drilling can be also mitigated with some basic measures and training of the drill crew.
My question - is there a db sound level and duration that has been set that is acceptable for day and night?
Often the db levels are set at max. exposure time, not peaks that might occur in industrial situations.
Have we taken sound data and reviewed this 2 ways - real time including sound spikes and average sound level over a period of time, i.e.: 12 hours or whatever is specified; and the defining of "night time," which makes me wonder what you consider night time (sun down to sun up, which changes throughout the year, or average bed time to waking time)?
I have drilled in the UK Midlands and we had to keep noise levels to acceptable levels not for the farmers but not to disturb the cows! The measurement here was whether milk production decreased if the cows heard noises that were not common, constant or unexpected. Here, simply making sound walls from baled hay stopped the noise and we went about our business drilling and the cows made milk!
In my view really what this resolution is all about - It is an attempt to shut down the development of Geothermal making a side attack. Basically the sponsors of this resolution (bill) want to stop the drilling. They will try any approach or any method to do this.
I think Mr. Yagong and those supporting this resolution (bill) are very uninformed and have not even done the basic research to establish the noise level, or what could be done by the drilling contractor to reduce any noise. Drilling is just a temporary situation and I do not know how many private and public construction jobs I have had to put up with over the last 50 plus years; hearing jack hammers to banging of beams and diesel engines running bothered me but we lived through it and enjoyed the benefits these construction projects brought to us. We need to look at what sometimes is a little inconvenience and maybe even discomfort. We as an island community need to consider the long-term benefits to ourselves and our fellow islanders.
Really, are we going to let a short-term inconvenience for some punish the rest of us on the island? We need to start thinking what is best for our island, not a few individuals whose goal is to stop development of a local resource because they are slightly, temporarily inconvenienced.
I see the same people trying to stop the development of Geothermal by trying every tactic they can. Is the council concerned about a small special interest group or the good of our island and the people who live here?
Should any council member or individual in our community want to contact me regarding the specifics of drilling, or want to take advantage of my 35 years experience in the drilling, energy exploration and production, please feel free to.
My Pop told me when I was a small kid, "Get thousand reasons why NO CAN. I only looking for the one reason why CAN." As a Big Island Community Coalition member, I am hoping the council members will find a solution that works for all of us
We are concerned about the most defenseless among us – those kupuna on fixed income, the working homeless, single moms, small businesses and people who are just trying to not lose their homes.
We will keep informed our hundreds of coalition members (the number keeps growing; click here to learn more) as to how our council members voted - to lower, or raise, their electricity rates.