Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. has paid an $11,000 fine to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission for incidents that occurred in 2012 and 2013, when the producer started work at two wells pads in Pennsylvania days before it received permits from the organization to do so.
SRBC spokeswoman Gwyn Rowland said the violations were discovered by commission staff late last year during audits of the company's operations within the river basin. Commission staff reviewed regulatory records and found that drilling at the Gillingham and Delucia pads in Susquehanna County started days before the SRBC approved the operations.
When contacted by SRBC, Cabot confirmed that drilling started on the Gillingham pad on May 25, 2013 before it received commission approval on May 31, 2013. The company also confirmed that it started drilling at the Delucia pad on Oct. 25, 2012 before receiving approval on Nov. 9, 2012.
Rowland said Cabot paid the $11,000 fine in January, and added that commissioners accepted the settlement last week.
Cabot was also cited for similar violations in 2008 and 2014. The company said in a statement regarding the latest settlement that it has since taken measures to prevent misinterpreting the regulations and added that the violations occurred before those steps were taken.
Producers must receive permits from applicable river basin commissions when drilling in the areas. Pennsylvania is a member of eight interstate river basin organizations. The SRBC oversees conservation and development in the river basin. The Susquehanna River is one of the nation's largest.
River basin violations were more common in the early days of the Marcellus Shale's development, when out-of-state operators were unaccustomed to dealing with the quasi-regulatory commissions.