The wells we saw being drilled by rig 278 are expected to produce for 30-40 years.
Used drilling pipes:
Once the wells are drilled and operational, the rig and other equipment will be moved off site. What typically remains are the well heads, monitoring equipment, and tanks to capture the water and other particles that come to the surface with the gas, but can’t be used for energy.
Passing a current wellhead - solar panels are used to help power monitoring equipment.
When a well runs dry, it is plugged with cement and some equipment (hand rails around the site, for example) remain to identify the space as a former well. The rest is removed and the land can be reclaimed for uses like ranching, farming, etc.
The folks at Williams told us that natural gas production is down in the U.S. this year, thanks to the recession and falling demand. But the past several years have seen a boon for the industry; about half of the gas used in the U.S. today comes from wells drilled less than four years ago.
Despite the downturn, Williams and other companies haven't stopped exploring for more gas. The Rocky Mountains are considered an "immature" source for gas - in other words, there is much more to be found and drilled.