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Industry Deploys Ground-Shaking Methods In Quest For Idaho Natural Gas

Sept. 30, 2012 | Boise State Public Radio/Idaho Public Television
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Aaron Kunz

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  • Seismic testing trucks are sending low-frequency noise into the ground. The return noise is recorded and sent to a computer miles away. credit: Aaron Kunz
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Seismic testing trucks are sending low-frequency noise into the ground. The return noise is recorded and sent to a computer miles away. | credit: Aaron Kunz | rollover image for more

NEW PLYMOUTH, Idaho — The Natural Gas industry is shaking the earth in the Northwest. It’s looking for the best places to start drilling for natural gas in Western Idaho near the Oregon border.

The process, called seismic testing, helps companies like Snake River Oil and Gas know exactly where to start drilling.

Rod McLeod is with Gulf Coast Permits and is helping analyze 50 square miles near the town of New Plymouth. He explains how the 32,000-pound trucks help determine if there is gas hundreds of feet underground.

“They put their pad down on the ground and it shakes and causes waves to go down through the earth,” McLeod says. “And then they reverberate through the substructure and come back up and the noise is picked up by the geophones on a separate line.”

Geophones are small devices with wires attached that are strung across the ground. They measure the seismic motion as noise and send that information to a computer. The computer will generate a 3D picture for scientists. Standing 50 feet from the trucks, it sounds like this.

This is the first time that 3D mapping has been done in Idaho. Without this technology, workers would drill a hole and set off dynamite to shake the ground.

The industry used this opportunity to show Idaho lawmakers the process. David Hawk, a contractor with Snake River Oil and Gas was on the tour. He told legislators what they were seeing from a bus.

Afterward, he said lawmakers appeared confident in the regulations they approved. Hawk says, “I believe that they feel they made the right decisions at that time and I do think they still do think they made the right decisions.”

The 3D maps should be done by December. The public probably won’t see those maps since they are proprietary property. Snake River Oil and Gas President Richard Brown says he hopes to start drilling for gas by next summer.

© 2012 Boise State Public Radio/Idaho Public Television
Natural Gas Drilling Idaho
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