Although one fire is out at a Chevron Appalachia LLC well pad in southwest Pennsylvania, another well continues to periodically spew flames, which specialists and state officials say could help efforts to cap the wells as early as this weekend.
Kent Robertson, Chevron upstream spokesman, said the company and a team of specialists from Houston-based Wild Well Control, who arrived at the site in Dunkard Township, which is south of Pittsburgh, late Tuesday, have had a full day of on-site preparations to move forward with a plan to extinguish the still-burning fire and cap both wells.
Officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said continuous flaring overnight is a good sign for those working to clear the site of hot metal and other debris because it demonstrates that gas trapped inside the well is burning off, which reduces the risks of another explosion during the remediation work.
Chevron reported an explosion and fire at 6:45 a.m. EST on Tuesday that left one person hospitalized and another from the oilfield services company Cameron International unaccounted for and now presumed dead (see Daily GPI, Feb. 11; Feb. 12).
Specialists began clearing the debris from the site on Thursday (see Daily GPI, Feb. 13) and Robertson said on Friday that "while progress has been made today responding to conditions at the well site, we remain focused on the unaccounted for contractor."
A water tank pad has been prepared at the site and was expected to be ready for water tanks to be delivered on Friday, Robertson added. Chevron also said it expects any other remaining equipment and debris on the pad to be cleared off Friday.
DEP officials said the company has requested an emergency permit that would allow it to take water for the tanks from a pond nearby, which will help in the capping efforts.