Saturday, January 20, 2024

4 Months Later, XTO Energy, Inc. Said They Will Plug 4 Shale Gas Wells DEP Found To Be Abandoned And Not Plugged In September

On January 16, 2024, the Department of Environmental Protection did a routine inspection of an XTO Energy, Inc. [an ExxonMobil company] shale gas well pad in Prospect Borough, Butler County and found four shale gas wells continued to be in violation of regulations requiring wells to be plugged after abandonment.

The wells-- Patton C 2H, 3H, 4H and 5H-- were at the Coretsky shale gas well pad 

DEP’s January 16 inspection reports for each of the wells said DEP originally issued notices of violations for abandoning the wells without plugging them on September 14, 2023.

The September 14, 2023 inspection report requested a response from the operator by September 28, 2023 on bringing the wells into compliance.

             On January 9, 2024, DEP received a Notice of Intention to plug the wells from the company in response to the original NOVs issued in September.

DEP inspector Brian Douglas MacQuarrie said in his January 16 inspection reports he talked with Rich Lightner, a representative of XTO, that day who said the company expected a well plugging service rig to be on site on January 18, 2024.

Lightner said plugging operations were expected to begin on January 22, 2024.  The operator plans to plug all the wells beginning with Patton C 2H.  

However, from the weekly reviews of DEP oil and gas inspection reports over the past year, it can be weeks, months, years or never after the notice to plug is received that the wells are actually plugged, in particular for conventional oil and gas wells.

MacQuarrie continued the abandonment violations in the January 16 inspection reports for all four shale gas wells.  The inspection reports did not report nor were there any photos of any actual equipment or crew on site during the inspection doing any plugging or any plugging preparations.

Copies of DEP’s January 16, 2024 Inspection Reports all have a single violation-- "Failure to plug the well upon abandoning it"--

-- Patton C 2H: DEP inspection report

-- Patton C 3H: DEP inspection report

-- Patton C 4H: DEP inspection report

-- Patton C 5H: DEP inspection report

It would be standard practice for DEP to do a follow up inspection at the Coretsky shale gas well pad some time after the date the company said plugging operations were to begin to check on their progress.

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: XTO Energy Coretsky shale gas well pad in September, 2023 showing abandoned wells; January 16, 2024 photo showing 2H well.)

[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.]

2023 Oil & Gas Compliance Reports:

-- DEP Issued At Least 512 Violations To 95 Conventional Oil & Gas Operators For Abandoning Wells Without Plugging Them In 2023; 10 Shale Gas Operators Were Issued NOVs For Abandoning Wells  [PaEN]

-- DEP Issues Record 6,860 Notices Of Violation To Conventional Oil & Gas Operators In 2023-- Nearly 52% More Than In 2021; ‘Culture Of Non-Compliance’ Continues  [PaEN] 

-- 2023 Shale Gas Operator Compliance Report: 1,310 Violations; Explosions; Pad Fire, Evacuation; Uncontrolled Gas Venting; Frack-Outs; Polluting Water Supply; Spills; Pipeline Crashing Thru A Home; More  [PaEN]

-- PA Environment Digest: Articles On Oil & Gas Facility Impacts

PA Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- PA Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Jan. 13 to 19;  9 Abandoned Conventional Wells; 4 Abandoned Shale Gas Wells; Freshwater Pipeline Break; Ice & Snow  [PaEN]

-- 4 Months Later, XTO Energy, Inc. Said They Will Plug 4 Shale Gas Wells DEP Found To Be Abandoned And Not Plugged In September  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - January 20  [PaEN] 

-- DEP Posted 41 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In January 20 PA Bulletin  [PaEN] 

Related Articles:

-- DEP Releases Final Guidance On Environmental Considerations In Using Trenchless Technology To Construct Natural Gas, Other Pipelines  [PaEN] 

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Sets Feb. 1 Hearing On Water Withdrawal Requests, Including 8 Related To Shale Gas Development; And On Cooperative Fish Nursery General Permit  [PaEN]

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Approves 25 Shale Gas Well Pad Water Use General Permits In Bradford, Lycoming, Potter, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wyoming Counties  [PaEN]

-- Senate Environmental Committee To Hold 2nd Joint Hearing With Ohio Legislature On Electric Grid Reliability Feb. 1;  Will It Address Natural Gas Infrastructure Vulnerabilities?  [PaEN] 

-- PJM Interconnection Issues New Cold Weather Alert For Western Region Jan. 19-22  [PaEN]

-- CFA Approves $27 Million In Watershed, Recreation Projects Funded By Act 13 Drilling Impact Fees; Fees Dropping $104 Million In 2024; New Grant Round Opening  [PaEN]

-- DEP Hosts In-Person, Virtual Q/A Sessions On Applying For $5 Million Shell Petrochemical Plant Mitigation Grants In Beaver County  [PaEN]

-- Health Effects Institute Hosts Annual Conference April 28-30 In Philadelphia; Call For Abstracts  [PaEN] 

-- PA Cong. Thompson, Deluzio Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Provide Flexibility To States Implementing The Federal Conventional Orphan Oil & Gas Well Plugging Program  [PaEN] 


-- WJAC - Stoker Wieczorek: Equitrans Rager Mountain Gas Storage Area Leak Site Not Cleaned Up Over A Year Later In Cambria County 

-- Reuters: Severe US Cold Snap Prompts Peak Power, Natural Gas Demand, Drop In Gas Production  [Freeze-offs Caused 17 Billion Cubic Foot Reduction In Gas Production; 19.6 Bcfd Reduction During Winter Storm Elliott; 20.4 Bcfd Reduction In Feb. 2021] 

-- Marcellus Drilling News: US Natural Gas Prices Make Huge Jump On Deep Freeze; Some Shale Gas Prices Increase By 400%

-- Reuters: US Natural Gas Demand Eyes Record As Arctic Blast Dents Output

-- Reuters: US Natural Gas Supplies Drop Due To Frozen Wells, Record Demand Forecast Due To Extreme Cold  [Again] 

-- Reuters: US LNG Natural Gas Feedgas To LNG Plants Drops To One-Year Low By Arctic Freeze, Problems At Freeport LNG Plant In Texas

-- Bloomberg: US Deep Freeze Force LNG Natural Gas Exporters To Cancel, Delay Shipments 

-- Bloomberg: EU Sees Natural Gas Storage Levels More Than Half Full By Winter’s End

-- Bloomberg: LNG Natural Gas Tankers Divert From Red Sea As Qatar Warns Of Escalation

-- Financial Times: The LNG Natural Gas Glut Will Chill The Gas Ambitions Of Oil Majors

-- Financial Times: US Energy Security Role In Question As Natural Gas Exports Receive New Scrutiny

[Posted: January 20, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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