The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Friday said EOG Resources, which had been ordered to suspend all of its natural gas well drilling activities in the state in the wake of a June 3 blowout at a company well in Clearfield County, PA, may resume work at two wells determined to have no environmental or operational violations.
The Pennsylvania order issued June 7 had prohibited EOG from drilling activities for up to seven days, from engaging in hydraulic fracturing operations for up to 14 days and from completing or initiating post-fracing operations for 30 days in any wells in the state, but none of the activities were to resume until DEP has completed a comprehensive investigation of the incident and EOG had implemented any required changes, according to DEP Secretary John Hanger (see Daily GPI, June 8).
EOG, which operates approximately 265 active wells in Pennsylvania, 117 of them in the Marcellus Shale formation, has been fully cooperative, according to DEP.
The blown-out well, Punxsutawney Hunt Club #36H, which is located in an unpopulated area about 11 miles from Penfield, PA, remains out of service. The two wells allowed to resume operations are also at Punxsutawney Hunt Club.
DEP on Thursday ordered C.C. Forbes, a contractor that had provided post-hydraulic fracturing services at the EOG well, to suspend all post-hydraulic fracturing activities on Marcellus Shale wells in the state as DEP continues its investigation of the blowout (see Daily GPI, June 11). Washington, PA-based C.C. Forbes, a division of Alice, TX-based Forbes Energy Services, said it voluntarily idled its two workover rigs in the Marcellus on June 4, five days prior to receiving the DEP order, and has hired an independent third-party consulting firm to investigate the incident.
The well “experienced a control issue” at about 8 a.m. June 3, according to EOG. A service rig was in the final stages of completing the well when the blowout occurred. The well, which had produced brine water and natural gas, was shut in and secured shortly after noon June 4, the Houston-based company said. Natural gas and fracing fluid shot approximately 75 feet high and flowed from the well for approximately 16 hours. Approximately 35,000 gallons of drilling wastewater were released during the incident, Hanger said. On Thursday Forbes said approximately 834 barrels of salt water and flowback fluids were released before the well was shut in, the majority of which was collected on site.
There were no injuries, no fire and no significant impact to the environment as a result of the incident, EOG said.
A preliminary DEP investigation determined that a blowout preventer (BOP) on the well failed, but the agency does not know if that failure was the main cause of the incident. EOG said it appears that the seal integrity between the pipe rams of the BOP and the tubing was compromised, allowing pressurized fluids and some natural gas to flow.
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