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XTO Successfully Caps Utica Well From Mid-February Blowout

XTO Energy Inc. said it has successfully capped a Utica Shale well in Ohio that blew out during completion operations nearly three weeks ago.

Spokeswoman Karen Matusic told NGI's Shale Daily that XTO and Texas-based Cudd Well Control were able to bring the Schnegg C-7H well under control at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. The well is on a four-well pad in Belmont County's York Township.

"Safety was always our number one consideration throughout this process, and fortunately no one was injured as a result of this incident," Matusic said. "Last night, we diverted the methane flow into a built-for-purpose burn pit to allow the team safe access to the affected wellhead. That procedure was successful and we were able to kill the well this morning."

The well caught fire and exploded on Feb. 15. At the time, about 24 people were working at the pad when contractors lost control of the well while pulling plugs and finishing up completion operations. The incident also toppled a crane at the site, which fell onto one of the three producing wells on the pad, damaging a valve. There were no injuries.

Efforts to cap the well were hampered by heavy rains in the region. XTO and Cudd crews also had to install a bridge over a nearby creek to gain two-way access to the site.

XTO and Ohio regulators are conducting an investigation into the incident.

"At this stage, we do not think the well would need to be shut-in," Matusic said. "Obviously, we will be testing the integrity of every aspect of the well and casing, et cetera, to make a determination."

Matusic had noted earlier that the ExxonMobil Corp. subsidiary would likely be able to place the other three wells back on production. The pad includes one well targeting the Utica and two vertical wells that XTO acquired when it purchased the property.

About 100 people living within one mile of the pad were evacuated following the incident, but everyone has since been allowed to return home, Matusic said.

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