Thursday, July 15, 2010


In Pennsylvania:
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120

William Rathbun, Department of Environmental Protection

DEP Investigates Fire at Susquehanna County Natural Gas Well Pad

HARRISBURG -- Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said his agency is looking into the cause of a July 13 fire at a natural gas well pad in Susquehanna County.

The fire occurred at a separator tank at a site operated by Chesapeake Energy in Auburn Township. The tank ignited at approximately 8 p.m. and was extinguished at around 10 p.m. by local emergency responders working with the company. The well was producing natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation through a pipeline away from the wellhead to a production unit where a valve failed, leaked natural gas and caught fire.

“Fortunately, this incident does not appear to have caused any significant environmental contamination thanks to the prompt response efforts of the local emergency responders and the company,” said Hanger, noting that no injuries or evacuations were reported as a result of the incident. “We’ll be investigating this operation closely to see what can be learned by both the department and gas well operators.”

Chesapeake notified the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency of the fire at approximately 8:30 p.m. DEP dispatched an oil and gas inspector immediately to the scene to assess the conditions. The site will remain closed until repairs can be made and DEP completes its investigation.

Chesapeake Energy has been issued 698 permits to develop natural gas in Pennsylvania, 697 of which are located within the Marcellus Shale. The company operates 187 wells in the state, 182 of which are in the Marcellus Shale.

For more information, visit and click on “Oil & Gas.”

In West Virginia:
Gas drilling fire burns 7 workers in W. Virginia
July 15, 2010
Science News

A fireball and explosion burned seven members of a crew drilling for natural gas at an abandoned coal mine in West Virginia on Monday, the second big fire at an energy formation known as the Marcellus Shale in less than a week, a government worker said.

Local media reports said the injuries were not life-threatening.

“Seven workers were taken to the hospital for burns,” Prentice Cline, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration assistant in Charleston, West Virginia said.

AB Resources PA LLC of Brecksville, Ohio is the operator of the well, while privately-held Chief Oil & Gas, holds responsibility to drill and complete the well, local media reports said.

Cline said five of the workers work for Union Drilling, Inc, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, and two work for BJ Services Co of Houston.

The vast Marcellus Shale field runs through West Virginia and Pennsylvania. On Thursday, a well operated by EOG Resources Inc in Pennsylvania blew out when a drilling team lost control of it while preparing to extract gas using the hydraulic fracturing technique.

Chief was unavailable for comment.

Local media reports said the natural gas drilling operation near Moundsville was less than a week old.

Kevin Book, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, said it appeared West Virginia fire was also caused by workers getting ready to use hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” to get to the gas.

Critics of fracking say domestic water supplies are contaminated by chemicals that are forced into the ground along with sand and millions of gallons of water to free gas from fissures in the shale a mile or more underground.

Union Drilling, Chiefs site contractor, had drilled the first 1,000 feet of a second well on the property and was preparing to install surface casing when crews apparently hit and ignited the methane, local reports said.



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