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Magnum NatGas Blowout Continues to Flow

Four days after a blowout at a Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. well in Monroe County, OH, natural gas was still flowing uncontrollably Wednesday as specialists evaluated their options.

To drill three other wells on the pad in the Utica Shale, subsidiary Triad Hunter LLC had temporarily plugged the Stalder 3UH in Lee Township. Workers lost control Saturday afternoon after production operations restarted (see Shale Daily, Dec. 15). No injuries were reported.

"They're evaluating the situation to decide whether they can reuse the wellhead or cut it off and install a new one," said Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle of Wild Well Control's efforts, which began on Sunday. "There's still a steady stream of gas."

An evacuation order that had been issued by the Sardis Volunteer Fire Department, which Lee contracts with, remained in effect Wednesday, McCorkle said. According to posts on the fire department's Facebook page, residents were able to access their homes only from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. EST. A no-fly-zone also was in effect up to 5,000 feet within a three-mile radius of the well. Those restrictions were subject to change "depending on the circumstances at the well pad," the fire department stated.

McCorkle said it wasn't clear if the well would be a total loss. Regulators, who have periodically been on-site since Saturday, plan to conduct a full investigation to determine if the well's casing has been compromised and to test its mechanical integrity. If the well can be repaired, Magnum won’t be allowed to resume operations until the investigation has concluded. Any fines or other regulatory actions would depend on regulator’s findings.

It remained unclear what caused the well to lose control. Magnum has said it plans to issue more information as it becomes available.

The Stalder 3UH was touted by the company in February with an initial production rate of 32.5 MMcf/d (see Shale Daily, Feb. 14). The blowout is one of several in recent months in Ohio (see Shale Daily, Oct. 29; July 3; June 30; April 7). 

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