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Drilling Fluid Migration in Pennsylvania Prompts State, Local Response

JKLM Energy LLC has opted to create a special website and open a community field office in North-Central Pennsylvania after more than 50 gallons of foaming agent migrated from a well pad in Potter County, jeopardizing nearby private water supplies.

The fledgling company is based in a Pittsburgh suburb and was established to do business in the state in 2013, Pennsylvania Department of State records show. Earlier this year, it began securing mineral rights in the north-central part of the state with interest in exploring the Utica Shale following encouraging results from larger operators (see Shale DailyNov. 24, 2014). The company said a foaming agent, used to aid drilling and production, had migrated into subsurface and groundwater after it was used to help free a broken drill bit piece in a well on its Reese Hollow 118 pad in Sweden Township.

The migration occurred around Sept. 18. In a series of press releases since then, the company said the surfactant was heavily diluted with fresh water during its application. But the company and state regulators remain concerned about the isopropanol, which is also commonly found in household products, which was in the solution. An investigation is ongoing to determine exactly what water supplies have been impacted.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has also not authorized the substance for use in the drilling process. JKLM said it was reviewing "the procedures that resulted in the use of the material and will provide that information to the DEP."

A soapy substance with a consistency similar to shaving foam, the  surfactant may have impacted five private water wells, JKLM said last week. The company has since provided replacement water.

On Sunday, the company said it had received 24 lab test results from water sources near the Reese Hollow pad. Isopropanol has been detected in only one water well. But five wells have shown levels of methylene blue-activated substances, which are used to test for the presence of the foaming agent. Results from a nearby pond also show the methylene blue. JKLM said it would continue working with the DEP and area first responders.

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