Bill to Stop Nighttime Geothermal Drilling ‘Absurd, Uninformed,’ Says Expert; Submit Testimony

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

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

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.


H.Y. Banquer 

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.