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No Easy Fix For Magnum NatGas Blowout

Wild Well Control on Friday started the lengthy process of removing the wellhead at a Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. site in Monroe County, OH, that's been leaking uncontrollably since Dec. 13 (see Shale Daily, Dec. 15).

Magnum's Executive Vice President of Operations James Denny reportedly told a local press conference that efforts at a quick fix failed after subsidiary Triad Hunter LLC lost control of the well. Denny was quoted as saying the "first attempt to mitigate the leaking valve was not successful, so now we're back to the long difficult task of stopping the flow."

The Stalder 3UH, located in Lee Township, had been plugged to drill three other Utica Shale wells on the pad. When production resumed at the pad, Magnum said Triad Hunter personnel were removing the well's night cap flange when a pressure disruption occurred and attempts to bolt it back down were unsuccessful. No injuries were reported.

The Sardis Volunteer Fire Department, which serves Lee Township, said attempts to repair the cap had failed. Wild Well started excavating the wellhead Friday after it was determined that it could no longer be used (see Shale Daily, Dec. 17). The fire department said the process of replacing the wellhead is "estimated to last for the next seven days."

An evacuation order for a 1.5-mile radius around the well site was affecting 30 homes and about 50 residents, according the latest update. The fire department initially said 25 homes were affected. A no-fly zone up to 5,000 feet and within a three-mile radius is also still in effect.

It remains unclear how much natural gas has been lost in the blowout or what exactly caused the well to fail. Magnum's year-end production is expected to be reduced as a result of the incident. The fire department said representatives from Magnum and Wild Well are continuing to meet daily with local and state officials.

With remediation efforts expected to intensify, the fire department advised residents on its Facebook page that they should not plan on accessing their homes on Saturday.

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