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Statoil Faces $223,000 Fine For Ohio Well Pad Fire

Ohio regulators have fined Statoil ASA $223,000 for a series of violations they discovered after completing a review of an explosion and fire that occurred last year at an eight-well pad operated by the company in Monroe County (see Shale Daily, June 30, 2014).

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) conducted reviews, and they announced the proposed fines on Tuesday. Statoil has not yet agreed to the penalties.

Regulators said fluids left the well pad, a violation of state law. The state also said the company failed to maintain operational control of the well pad and and disposed of brine fluid in an unapproved manner. The review also determined that fluids from the well pad depleted oxygen levels in a nearby stream, which led to a large fish kill. Several water-quality standards were violated as well.

"Last year's well pad fire in Monroe County was an unfortunate incident that negatively impacted habitat in the surrounding area while forcing nearby residents to leave their homes," said OEPA Director Craig Butler. "Thankfully, there were no injuries and we were able to learn from the incident and take significant steps to strengthen statewide response efforts.

In a report released after the blast, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said a broken hydraulic line sprayed fluid onto hot equipment during preparations to fracture seven wells at Statoil's Eisenbarth pad near the West Virginia state line (see Shale Daily, July 21, 2014). That caused a fire and as many as 30 explosions. More than 14,000 dead fish, frogs, crustaceans and salamanders were collected from the nearby stream in the days after the incident.

Statoil managed to shut in wells before the fire could damage them, but most of the surface equipment was a total loss. ODNR and OEPA said that once the financial penalties have been finalized, the state would provide up to $75,000 to local first responders to aid in future incidents. Once Statoil reaches a settlement concerning the fine, it should be able to restart production at the site, according to officials.

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