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Gastar Production Resumes at Reduced Rate After WV Pipeline Rupture

Gastar Exploration Inc. said late Thursday that its Marcellus Shale production in Marshall County, WV, was flowing again, albeit at a reduced rate, after a gathering pipeline ruptured and caught fire in the area on April 5, shutting its wells in for four and a half days (see Shale Daily, April 7).

Williams Partners LP, which owns and operates the 12-inch diameter line, believes it slipped and ruptured when wet weather and warm temperatures caused the land underneath it to shift. Williams was forced to reroute area production (see Shale Daily, April 8). Gastar said in its update that repairs on the ruptured line will be complete in three weeks when normal operations can resume again.

Williams processes natural gas in the county for Chesapeake Energy Corp., Chevron Appalachia LLC, Stone Energy Corp., Noble Energy Inc. and Trans Energy Inc. A Chevron spokesman told NGI's Shale Daily that the company's production was not at all affected by the rupture, while others being served by the pipeline could not be reached to comment.

Williams rerouted Gastar's production to a larger pipeline that feeds its Fort Beeler processing plant south of the operator's acreage. Gastar said it is currently producing natural gas at a rate of 50 MMcf/d, which is 19% less than the average daily production volumes the company recorded in March.

Since 2012, Gastar  has been ramping-up its Marcellus production. Last year, it sold its assets in East Texas for $46 million so it could redeploy the capital in the Marcellus Shale and the Hunton Limestone of Oklahoma (see Shale Daily, April 23, 2013). In 4Q2012 the company produced 30 MMcfe/d in the Marcellus, which increased to 41 MMcfe/d in 4Q2013 (see Shale Daily, March 17).

Midstream issues have been a problem for the company's  northern West Virginia drilling program, which accounts for two-thirds of its average daily production. It was forced to suspend those operations for a short time in the second half of last year because Williams' infrastructure buildout in the region failed to keep pace with its output (see Shale Daily, March 18, 2013).

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