Thursday, April 7, 2022

Quarterly Report: DEP Issued 77 Notices Of Violations To Conventional Drillers, 8 To Shale Gas Drillers For Attempting To Abandon Wells Without Plugging Them

Oil and Gas Compliance System reports conventional oil and gas drillers were issued 77 notices of violation for attempting to abandon wells without plugging them in the first three months of 2022.

Unconventional shale gas drillers were issued 8 NOVs for attempting to abandon wells without plugging them during the same time period.

Conventional Drillers

The conventional companies issued NOVs for attempting to abandoned wells in the first quarter were-- Allegheny Enterprises, Arrington Natural Resources, Bear Lake Prop, Betz Oil, Bull Run Resources, Diamond Energy, Diversified Prod, DJW Enterprises, Empire Energy, Esther & Robert Seranko, Fairman Corp, First American Energy, Five Star Investment, Fyrerock Reservoir, Gas Prod. & Svc Consultants, Go Energy, H&M Wells, Horizontal Explorating, Martin B. Simmons, Marvin Sanders, Marwell, McKissick Exploration, Mill Creek School District, Oil & Gas Management, OWS Acquisition, PA Mineral Svs., Reel Resources, Ryan Farm, STK Investments, Suchko Andrew and Timberline Energy.

The well locations were in Cambria, Clarion, Elk, Erie, McKean, Mercer, Venango, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland counties. 

This continues the pattern of attempted well abandonment that is pervasive in the conventional oil and gas drilling industry.  Read more here.

From 2016 to 2021, DEP issued 4,270 notices of violation to conventional drillers for attempting to abandon their wells.  Read more here.

Of the 1,268* notices of violation the Oil and Gas Program issued to all oil and gas industry companies for operations in the first quarter of 2022-- approximately 910* NOVs were issued to conventional operators for all sorts of violations, including processing waste without a permit, failing to operate wells to insure their mechanical integrity, methane leaks, fluid leaks and spills and much more.

Conventional companies with the most violations continued to be-- Chesapeake Appalachia, Diversified Production, Empire Energy and Rice Drilling.

It’s worth a few minutes to browse through DEP’s first quarter compliance report just to see the hundreds of violations racked up by the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania.

Warning: The average person is likely to be shocked at the number and extent of the violations documented by DEP day in and day out.

Click Here for the complete list of NOVs issued by DEP during the first quarter.

Unconventional Shale Gas

DEP issued eight NOVs to five unconventional shale gas drillers for attempting to abandon multiple unconventional wells on well pads in Clinton, Elk, McKean and Westmoreland counties in the first quarter of 2022.

The companies included Catalyst Energy, Frontier National Resources, Mieka LLC, Pin Oak Energy and Range Resources.

DEP issued 12 unconventional shale gas drillers notices of violation for abandoning gas wells without plugging them at 35 wells pads (each with multiple wells) in 17 counties between 2016 and 2022 (through February).  Read more here.

There were a total of approximately 218* NOVs issued to unconventional shale gas drillers during the first quarter of 2022.

The companies with the most significant problems and number of violations included-- Catalyst Energy (McKean County), Chesapeake Appalachia (Bradford, Susquehanna, Wyoming counties), Chief Oil & Gas (Bradford County), Diversified Prod. (Westmoreland County), EQT Prod (Lycoming County), Frontier Natural Resources (Clinton County), Inflection Energy (Lycoming County), Kriebel Wells Dissolution (Greene County), Mieka, LLC (Westmoreland County), Pin Oak Energy (Elk County), Rockdale Marcellus (Tioga County), Seneca Resources (Lycoming County), STL Resources (Clinton County) and XTO Energy (Clinton County).

The most frequent kinds of NOVs issued by DEP to these companies, aside from attempted well abandonment, included things like defective casing and cementing allowing methane and fluid leaks, improper waste disposal and failure to monitor the integrity of wells.

Again, it’s worth a few minutes to browse through DEP’s first quarter compliance report just to see the hundreds of violations racked up by the oil and gas industry.

Click Here for the complete list of NOVs issued by DEP during the first quarter.

Gas Storage/Pipelines

DEP’s Oil and Gas Program is also responsible for inspections of pipeline construction and the integrity of underground natural gas storage facilities in Pennsylvania.

During the first quarter of 2022, DEP issued 76* NOVs to underground gas storage facilities and 64* NOVs to pipeline companies for construction-related violations.

An underground natural gas storage facility owned by Eastern Gas Transmission in Westmoreland County was given NOVs for not notifying DEP of venting gas and multiple other violations and a Peoples Natural Gas-owned gas storage facility in Washington County was issued multiple NOVs for not plugging a well it abandoned and many other violations that made up the bulk of the NOVs in this category.

ETC Northeast Pipeline was issued the most NOVs for its construction activities related to repairing the Revolution Pipeline, along with EQM Gathering lines for pipeline and compressor station violations.

Again Click Here for the complete list of NOVs issued for these companies.

Remedies For New Well Abandonments

In November the Environmental Quality Board accepted a rulemaking petition to increase the bonding amounts for both conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells to the cost taxpayers would have to pay to plug them if abandoned by drilling companies. Read more here.

DEP may report back to the EQB on the petition at its next scheduled meeting on May 18.

Increasing bond amounts to the real taxpayer cost of plugging and closing the loophole in state law that exempts wells drilled before April 1985 from any bonding requirement will go a long way to protecting taxpayers from billions of dollars in liability for plugging these wells if drilling companies walk-- and they are walking, particularly the conventional drillers.  Read more here.

The other issue is staffing for DEP’s Oil and Gas Program.

The Oil and Gas Program faces a $10.5 million annual funding deficit, nearly half of the approximately $25 million it costs to regulate conventional and unconventional drilling.  This deficit has also cut staff from a full complement of 226 positions to 190.  Read more here.

The bottomline is DEP can only catch companies trying to abandon new wells if they have the staff to do it.

[*Note: The total number of NOVs reported by DEP’s databases includes duplicates so the totals used above are approximate, but they do indicate the same trend in numbers of violations issued in the past to conventional and unconventional operators.  The number of NOVs issued for attempted well abandonment do not include duplicates.]

[Note: If you believe your company is listed incorrectly, contact DEP’s Oil and Gas Management Program.]

(Photo: Abandoned conventional oil and gas wells.)

Related Articles:

-- Senate Budget Hearings: PA’s Experience With New Pipeline Construction Shows State Laws Not Strong Enough To Prevent Environmental Damage, Protect Public Safety [2.2.22]

-- 12 Unconventional Shale Gas Drillers Issued DEP Notices Of Violation For Abandoning Wells Without Plugging Them At 35 Well Pads In 17 Counties [3.2.22]

-- New Abandoned Wells: DEP Records Show Abandoning Oil & Gas Wells Without Plugging Them Is Pervasive In Conventional Drilling Industry; Who Is Protecting Taxpayers?  [2.23.22]

-- Millions Of Gallons Of Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Spread Illegally On Dirt Roads, Companies Fail To Comply With DEP Waste Regulations  [12.13.21]

[Posted: April 7, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner