Saturday, October 28, 2023

Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - October 21 to 27 -- Plugging 100th Well Tough Going; 30 Abandoned Conventional Wells Confirmed To 1 Operator

On October 18, Gov. Shapiro and DEP announced the state was plugging the 100th abandoned conventional oil and gas well this year under an emergency contract at Hillman State Park in Hanover Township, Washington County.  
Read more here.

Actual well plugging operations got underway on October 26, after Yost Drilling, the contractor doing the plugging, received an Erosion and Sedimentation Plan approval from DEP, according to Marcy Michalski, a local resident monitoring the plugging operations closely.

“Everything was ready. They started pulling [pumping rods out of the well]. So they got down 500 feet, hit water and a lot of oil,” said Michalski.  “They had to stop. They lost the rods, they lost the tubing. They tried fishing [using tools to grab the obstacles in the well]. They can't get it.”

“I don’t know how they’re going to pump this [oil, water] out of there or what they’re going to do with this,” said Michalski.  “I don't know what they're going to do because it's right by a stream [Brush Run Creek]. They already have the stream socked [absorbent booms to collect oil].”

“Well, the major difficulties, and this can actually be quoted for me, is this abandoned well may end up becoming abandoned because I don't know what they're going to do,” she added.

Plugging conventional wells is often difficult because a contractor never knows what they will run into until they start cleaning out the well.  Delays and cost increases frequently happen.

Preventing oil and gas operators from abandoning wells and taking steps to get operators to set aside enough money to plug their wells so taxpayers don’t have to is critical.

But today none of that is happening and conventional operators are continuing to  abandon 400 to 600 wells a year, according to DEP.  Read more here.

The Hillman State Park well is one of several abandoned conventional wells in the immediate area in Hanover Township DEP has said they plan to plug because of ongoing citizen complaints of water supply contamination and health impacts.

The conventional wells include SB Donaldson 1, 2, 3 and AB Donaldson 3, which were part of a DEP order the agency issued against Prosperity Oil Co, Inc., now under appeal.  [Read more here.]

DEP inspections in April found several of these wells venting natural gas.  Read more here.

Michalski reported her niece and her two young children had to move into her house to escape the impacts of the abandoned wells on their water well and in their home.

“There's just so much going on and it's a catastrophe unfortunately out there. It's a beautiful home, a beautiful area. And now this home is worth nothing,” said Michalski.  “But she had to do what she had to do as a mother.  Get them out of there, for safety.”

“You get angry, you get sad. You're happy that you're hearing stuff. Then you get angry again, because what you thought was going to happen that made you happy isn't happening. And then you go back and forth. And then she has kids. It's a lot,” said Michalski.

The delay in plugging the Hillman State Park well means delaying the plugging of the other wells affecting neighboring residents.

Former DEP Secretary Rich Negrin was quoted at the October 18 event as saying the well most immediately affecting Michalski’s niece's home would be plugged following the Hillman well.  Read more here.

Regular Weekly Report

From October 21 to 27, DEP’s Oil and Gas Compliance Database shows oil and gas inspectors filed 604 inspection entries.

So far this year-- as of October 20-- 

-- NOVs Issued In Last Week: 83 conventional, 18 unconventional

-- Year To Date - NOVs Issued: 5,390 conventional and 1,069 unconventional

-- Inspections Last Week: 430 conventional and 442 unconventional

-- Year To Date - Inspections: 12,862 conventional and 19,031 unconventional

-- Wells Drilled Last Week: 4 conventional and 16 unconventional

-- Year To Date Wells Drilled: 160 conventional and 344 unconventional

Click Here for DEP’s latest Oil and Gas Program workload report.

30 Abandoned Conventional Wells

On October 18 and 19, 2023, DEP inspected 30 conventional wells operated by John B. Best, including Friggle 2A, 4, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 27, 34, 39, 40, 41, 48, 51, 53, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, BL Solle K2, K5, K11 in Cranberry Township, Venango County and confirmed they were all abandoned.

DEP said these were followup inspections as a result of a citizen complaint confirming notices of violation issued on June 30, 2023 for abandoning wells. 

The violations were continued, but no specific follow up action noted in the inspection reports.  [DEP inspection report + photos - Friggle 16, as an example.]

DEP records show oil and gas operator John B. Best has a total of 166 conventional oil and gas wells all listed as “active.”  All the wells are located in Cranberry Township, Venango County.  Click Here to look them up.

Abandoned Shale Gas Well NOV

On October 27, 2023, DEP inspected the Hall 8423H shale gas well operated by XTO Energy Inc. (Exxon subsidiary) in Springfield Township, Fayette County and issued a notice of violation for abandoning the well without plugging it.

The DEP inspection report notes the well has not produced gas since September 2022.

In addition, the report said a production wastewater tank was heavily corroded and “What appeared to be holes were forming in the tank wall.”

Another wastewater storage tank was noted as being without secondary containment.

After issuing multiple NOVs, DEP requested the operator to submit a written report by November 15, 2023 detailing how the well will be brought into compliance.  [DEP inspection report + photos]

Rager Mountain Gas Storage Area Issues Not Resolved

On October 16, 17, 18 and 19, 2023, DEP did follow up inspections of the Equitrans Rager Mountain Gas Storage Facility in Jackson Township, Cambria County, the site of the 1.1 billion cubic foot uncontrolled venting of natural gas last November.

Every DEP inspection report said the same thing, “Equitrans has not yet demonstrated to the Department that groundwater impacts have been resolved” from the well plugging operations undertaken by the company to try to control the uncontrolled venting of gas.

DEP continues to take water samples from monitoring wells and other locations around the well site to test for indicators of contamination and continue to find pollution.

As an example, here is DEP’s inspection report from October 18 with photos.

In September, DEP issued NOVs to Equitrans for failing to provide DEP inspectors access to their facilities when requested.  Read more here.

Gas Leaking From Conventional Wells

On October 23, 2023, DEP did a follow up inspection of the Edward Bronakowski 1  conventional gas well operated by JF Pitonyak in Summit Township, Erie County and found it continues to leak gas into the ground near homes.

The gas migration event started on October 17 and efforts to suck methane gas from the soil continues with vacuum trucks.  [DEP inspection report]

On October 24, 2023, DEP inspected the WT 3428 2 conventional gas well operated by Pennhills Resources LLC in Bradford Township, McKean County and found it was recently completed and is now venting gas to the atmosphere.

Venting gas when the well is completed is a “normal” operation even though DEP’s Air Quality Program has regulations limiting methane emissions at wells.  

Drill cuttings were placed in a lined pit onsite.  No violations were issued by DEP.  [DEP inspection report]

Cleanup Started, Not Finished

On October 25, 2023, DEP did a followup inspection at the site of a production wastewater tank leak at the Arnold 2 conventional well operated by ARMAC Resources, LLC in Glade Township, Warren County.

On October 10, 2023, issued a series of notices of violation for the tank leak that resulted  in the discharge of crude oil and other fluids.

DEP reported the operator had begun cleaning up the impacted areas by excavating soil and reconstructing the containment dike around the tanks.

DEP, however, formally requested the operator to submit a written plan by November 23, 2023 on how the operator intends to further remediate spill impacted areas or demonstrate attainment of the Act 2 Land Recycling Program cleanup standards.  [DEP inspection report + photos]

Natural Gas Storage Areas

During the last week, DEP continued to inspect multiple conventional gas wells related to the National Fuel Gas Supply Corp East Branch, Keelor (in Allegheny National Forest) and Swede Hill natural gas storage areas in McKean County.

Well Plugging Projects

DEP continues to inspect federally-funded well plugging projects, this week in Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Venango and Washington counties.

Report Violations

To report oil and gas violations or any environmental emergency or complaint, visit DEP’s Environmental Complaint webpage.

Check These Resources

Visit DEP’s Compliance Reporting Database webpage to search their compliance records by date and operator and the Inspection Reports Viewer.

Sign up for DEP’s eNOTICE service which sends you information on oil and gas and other permits submitted to DEP for review in your community.

(Photos: top- JF Pitonyak conventional well continues to leak gas; Pennhills Resources LLC newly completed conventional well venting to atmosphere, drill cuttings in lined pit onsite; XTO Energy Inc. (Exxon subsidiary) corroded shale gas well production wastewater storage tank; ARMAC Resources, LLC site of leaking conventional wastewater storage tanks; bottom-  Site of 100th conventional well plugging;  One of 30 conventional abandoned wells confirmed by DEP operated by John B. Best; Site of Equitrans Rager Mountain Gas Storage Facility continued groundwater contamination.)

[Note: If you believe your company was listed in error, contact DEP’s Oil and Gas Program.]

[Note: These may not be all the NOVs issued to oil and gas companies during this time period.  Additional inspection reports may be added to DEP’s Oil and Gas Compliance Database.]

PA Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - October 21 to 27 -- Plugging 100th Well Tough Going; 30 Abandoned Conventional Wells Confirmed To 1 Operator  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - October 28  [PaEN] 

-- DEP Posted 68 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In October 28 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]  

Related Articles This Week:

-- House Environmental Committee To Hold Oct. 30 Hearing On Bill Increasing Setback Safety Zones From Shale Natural Gas Drilling Sites, Infrastructure Based On Latest Science, Grand Jury Report  [PaEN]

-- PA League Of Women Voters, University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health Nov. 14 Shale Gas & Public Health Conference  [PaEN]

-- Better Path Coalition: Nov. 2 Brown Bag Briefing On Fracking And PFAS 'Forever Chemicals' In Pennsylvania  [PaEN]


-- Inside Climate News - Jake Bolster: Should Wastewater From Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Be Spread On Pennsylvania Roads? 

-- The Allegheny Front: New Report Compiles Years Of Data About Health Risks Associated With Natural Gas Development, Infrastructure

-- Inside Climate News - Jon Hurdle: PA’s Shale Gas Industry Used 160 Million Pounds Of Fracking Chemicals From 2012 to 2022, New Report Says

-- Post-Gazette/Inside Climate News - Jon Hurdle: Report: PA’s Oil & Gas Industry Used 160 Million Pounds Of ‘Secret’ Chemicals From 2012 to 2022

-- The Center Square Guest Essay: Five Years Later, Evidence Of Fracking’s Safety Is Stronger Than Ever - By Heartland Institute & Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate & Environmental Policy

-- TribLive: ‘We’re All Coming Together,’ Plum Boro Teachers Revive Festival To Support Victims Of Natural Gas Explosion In Rustic Ridge Community, Allegheny County 

-- The Guardian: Gas Leaks Advocacy Group’s Ad Latest Push To Counter Fossil Fuel Industry Messaging

-- TribLive: Murrysville Will Solicit Bids For Oil, Gas Rights Beneath Two Municipal Parks In Westmoreland County

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: CNX Drilling For Natural Gas Under Pittsburgh Airport Runways

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: EQT Natural Gas Reaches Long-Term Agreements For Mountain Valley Pipeline Gas

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: How Equitrans Mountain Valley Pipeline’s Latest Delays Will Hit Partners

-- The Guardian: Fossil Fuel Firms Spent Millions On US Lawmakers Who Sponsored Anti-Protest Bills  [Sen. Martin, Sen. Regan Sponsored Bills In PA]

-- Chesapeake Bay Journal: Spill Of Plastic Pellets In MD, PA Streams Reveals The Polluting Potential Of ‘Nurdles’

[Posted: October 28, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner