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WV Pipeline Rupture Cuts Some Gastar Production

Gastar Exploration Inc. said late Monday that its production in Marshall County, WV, has been shut-in since Saturday due to a weekend rupture and fire on a 12-inch diameter natural gas gathering pipeline (see Shale Daily, March 7).

Williams Partners LP, which owns and operates the pipeline, is investigating what caused the rupture. Williams officials said Monday that production at three locations was disrupted. According to Gastar, Williams said it will reroute the producer's gas to a larger pipeline south of Gastar's acreage, which feeds the Fort Beeler processing plant. 

In addition to Gastar, Williams processes natural gas for Chesapeake Energy Corp., Chevron Appalachia LLC, Stone Energy Corp. Noble Energy Inc. and Trans Energy Inc. It wasn’t immediately clear what other producers were affected by the pipeline rupture, or how many wells were tied into the gathering line, but Williams spokesman Scott Carney said on Tuesday that operations in the area were “pretty much fluid at the moment,” as the company had worked to reroute other production besides Gastar’s.

Gastar had 27 net operated wells in Marshall County during 4Q2013, where it reported 41 MMcfe/d of production from its Marcellus Shale wells there (seeShale Daily, March 17). The rupture is a setback for Gastar because its acreage in northern West Virginia accounts for two-thirds of the company's average daily production. Gastar said it hopes to restart production late Tuesday.

The producer has been collecting condensate in temporary storage at a Marcellus pad in the area and then trucking it to sales. The company estimates that its production will be rerouted for two weeks, depending on the progress of Williams' repairs.

Analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH) called the incident "frustrating" in a note to clients on Tuesday, but they added that it would likely be a brief snag in the company's operations.

Carney said it was just speculation, but Williams officials believe the underground gathering line had slipped due to the wet weather and warmer temperatures the region has seen this month. He added that it wasn’t clear when the pipeline would be completely repaired.

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