I'm still sorting through the massive amount of information from my tour of Williams' natural gas operations. In the meantime, here are some photos from the trip.
Rig 278: A hybrid rig that uses offshore drilling technology for land use. Williams was the first company to use this type of technology, which allows the rig to move on a track and drill diagonally, drilling up to 16 wells in one spot rather than the traditional four.
Hard hats, safety goggles and steel-toed boots were required around the drilling equipment. I didn't have steel-toed boots, so they gave me these gadgets to strap onto my boots.
A foreman at the rig shows us two types of drill bits. The brown drill on the left is used to start the natural gas well and cut through the boulders that typically lie near the surface in this area. The yellow bit on the right has diamonds in it (the black spots, caused by a chemical reaction) and retail for about $45,000 (Williams leases them). One bit doesn't equal one natural gas well: For a typical 7,000 foot well, 2-3 yellow bits are needed.