Saturday, February 24, 2024

PA Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Feb. 17 to 23 -- 7 More Abandoned Conventional Wells; Defective Casing From 2018; Mariner Pipeline Drilling Mud Breakout; Additional Shell Air Penalties; Water Supply Investigation

From February 17 to 23,
DEP’s Oil and Gas Compliance Database shows oil and gas inspectors filed 494 inspection entries (four day week due to federal holiday).

So far this year-- as of February 16-- 

-- NOVs Issued In Last Week: 65 conventional, 2 unconventional

-- Year To Date - NOVs Issued: 854 conventional and 146 unconventional

-- Enforcements 2024: 59 conventional and 12 unconventional

-- Inspections Last Week: 243 conventional and 335 unconventional

-- Year To Date - Inspections: 1,843 conventional and 3,440 unconventional

-- Wells Drilled Last Week: 2 conventional and 15 unconventional

-- Year To Date Wells Drilled: 15 conventional and 59 unconventional

7 Abandoned Conventional Wells

On February 21, 2024, DEP did a follow-up inspection of two conventional wells-- Lott 2 and Wise Richard 4-- in Henderson Township, Jefferson County operated by Stonehaven Energy Mgt Co. LLC and found the wells to be abandoned and not plugged.

DEP also issued fresh violations for failure of the operator to comply with a Commonwealth Court order issued on August 16, 2023 requiring remediation of the sites for releases of wastewater based on violations issued on October 24, 2022.

Some remediation work was completed, but no documentation was submitted to DEP and there is evidence there is still contamination at the site.

DEP’s eFACTS database says Stonehaven Energy has 974 conventional well permits, seven of which are listed as abandoned, but not these two.

DEP’s inspection reports said there were effectively no changes at the site since the last inspection on December 6, 2023.  No follow-up actions were requested.

On February 12, 2024, DEP did an administrative review to classify the McCracken 1 conventional well in Scott Township, Lawrence County operated by Elizabeth Steen as an abandoned well.

DEP’s eFACTS database says Elizabeth Steen has permits for nine conventional wells, none of which are listed as abandoned.

DEP’s inspection report notes the well operators (husband and wife) and the landowners (husband and wife) are deceased.

On February 22, 2024, DEP conducted inspections of four conventional gas wells serving the Swarts Gas Storage Reservoir in Morris Township, Greene County operated by Equitrans LP and found the wells were not plugged ahead of underground coal mining in the area.

The wells included Phillips Estate 3791, 3793, 3795 and 3797.

Representatives of Equitrans were present during the inspections.

DEP’s eFACTS database says Equitrans LP (one of several Equitrans-related companies) has 507 permits for conventional wells, pipelines, compressor stations  and other facilities associated with gas storage areas.

DEP’s inspection reports note violations were first issued for this offense on January 31, 2024 and the violations were refreshed.  No follow-up action was requested of the operator.   Read more here about this case.

110 Conventional Abandoned Well NOVs

So far in 2024, DEP issued new or continued 110 notices of violation for conventional oil and gas well abandonment.

Mariner East Pipeline Drilling Mud Breakout

On February 16, 2024, in response to a citizen complaint on February 15, DEP inspected a tributary that feeds the lake at Marsh Creek State Park in Chester County and found a clay-like material contaminating the stream and a portion of the nearby wetlands.

            DEP’s inspection report said the area is the same location where a sinkhole developed and an “inadvertent return” of drilling mud used in the construction of the Energy Transfer/Sunoco Mariner East Pipeline occurred in August 2020.

            DEP’s report added, “It is possible that remaining bentonite in the soil column at this previous inadvertent return location has been pushed to the surface by the rising water table.”

            The inspector took a sample of the material for analysis.

            On February 22, DEP Press Secretary Neil Shader said, “The samples collected by DEP are being analyzed by Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. (SPLP), a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners.”

            Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. “applied for and received an emergency Chapter 105 permit to conduct cleanup operations,” according to Shader.

           “These operations will involve removing material from the tributary by hand and will not involve any heavy machinery. SPLP estimates around five days for the cleanup.” 

“DEP inspectors will check the site daily during the cleanup and someone from DEP was out there this morning to check the cleanup,” said Shader.  Read more here.

2018 Defective Cementing Continues At 2 Shale Gas Wells

On February 22, 2024, DEP did a routine inspection of shale gas wells 2H and 4H at the Evelyn WYO well pad in Windham Township, Wyoming County operated by Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC and found both wells continue to have the presence of gas in the cemented annulus of the wells indicating defective cementing.

This condition was originally discovered by DEP on October 4, 2018 and the operator has been trying to correct the problem since then.

DEP’s inspection reports for both wells indicate the violations issued on May 27, 2021 continue.  No further response is requested from the operator at this time.

Wastewater Spills, Gas Leaks At Conventional Wells

On February 22, 2024, DEP did a routine inspection of the LTV 2 and 3 conventional gas wells operated by Questa Petro Co. in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County and found evidence of wastewater spills from a sinking/leaning storage tank and gas leaking from well equipment.

DEP’s inspection reports noted violations were issued and the operator was requested to submit a written plan on how the wells would be brought into compliance by March 11, 2024.

On February 14, 2024, DEP did a follow-up inspection of the Musgrave 6 and Hood 1 conventional wells operated by Farrington & Hepler Gas & Oil Inc. in Economy Borough, Beaver County and found remediation of spills areas had not been completed.

The original violations for the spills were issued on December 5, 2023 and some work had been done, but spill areas remain.

DEP’s inspection report continued the violations and requested a written plan by February 29, 2024 for bringing the well sites into compliance.

Diesel Spill At Shale Gas Frack Water Impoundment

On February 20, 2024, DEP inspected the W.D. Fracking Water Impoundment in Tuscarora Township, Bradford County operated by Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC in response to a notification of a 100 gallon diesel fuel spill.

The operator said a truck driver overfilled the diesel fuel tank for the impoundment water pump.

DEP’s inspection report said violations were issued for the spill, excavation of the contaminated soil was underway and a written report on how the site is to be brought into compliance is due March 6, 2024.

2024 Act 2 Oil & Gas Facility Pollution Cleanups

So far in 2024, DEP received or acted on 54 Act 2 Land Recycling notices related to 54 oil and gas facility site cleanups.  Read more here.

CNX NV110 Well Pad Water Supply Complaint Investigation

On February 15, 2024, DEP received a citizen complaint about a water supply impacted by the NV110 shale gas well pad in East Finley Township, Washington County operated by CNX Gas Co. LLC.

On February 21, DEP did a complaint inspection at the well pad and found “no evidence of large spills” on the pad or around the equipment.

The shale gas well on the pad was drilled in February 2023 and fracked in June 2023.

DEP’s inspection report said water samples were collected at the site of the water supply complaint to be analyzed by DEP’s Lab for chemicals usually associated with shale gas wastewater as well as for methane, ethane and propane.

DEP keeps the names and locations of the complainants confidential in its reports.

CNX well pad NV110 is one of two shale gas well pads participating in the Shapiro Administration-CNX “Radial Transparency” partnership created in November to disclose chemical use, air and water monitoring results.  Read more here.  Read more here.

The Statement of Mutual Interests signed by CNX and the Shapiro Administration committed CNX to conduct these post-drilling water analyses--

-- For post-drill analysis, after a well is turned-in-line, at least four post-drill samples will be taken seasonally/quarterly, at least 45 days apart, to compare to pre-drill conditions, subject to landowner approval, and posted publicly subject to landowner anonymity and approval.

-- CNX will also perform at least four pre-drill and four post-drill seasonal, upgradient and downgradient surface water sampling events of the stream receiving stormwater run-off or direct discharges from each site of CNX operations at unconventional well pads. 

It is not known to what extent these water sampling initiatives have been implemented.

Equitrans Fresh Water Pipeline Release

On February 13, 2024, DEP conducted an inspection of a water pipeline release on February 12  from the Herminie North Temporary Freshwater Pipeline in Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County operated By Equitrans Water Svc (PA), LLC.

The pipeline takes water from the Little Sewickley Creek.

DEP issued violations for the release of about 3,000 gallons of water causing sediment and debris issues where the release occurred.  Remediation activities were underway at the site.

DEP’s inspection report requested a written report by March 4, 2024 on how the site will be brought into compliance.

Shell Petrochemical Plant Additional Air Pollution Penalties

On February 22, 2024,  DEP reported, in response to questions, the Shell Petrochemical Plant in Beaver County paid an additional $2,671,044.75 in civil penalties for air quality violations occurring after the May 24, 2023 consent order and before January 2024.  Read more here.

The May 2023 consent order and agreement included a $4,935,023 penalty to the DEP Clean Air Fund (25% of which was directed to the host community as required by law) and an additional $5 million was allocated to a Beaver County Environmental Mitigation Community Fund.  Read more here.

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: Row 1-- Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC diesel fuel spill at frack water impoundment; Questa Petro Co. sinking/leaning wastewater tank & spill area from conventional wells;  Stonehaven Energy Mgt Co. LLC abandoned conventional well;

Row 2--  Shell Petrochemical Plant additional air quality penalties; Equitrans Water Svc (PA), LLC fresh water pipeline release area causing erosion; Sunoco/Energy Transfer Mariner East Pipeline Marsh Creek drilling mud breakout; Elizabeth Steen abandoned conventional 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.]

PA Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard- Feb. 17 to 23 [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices, Opportunities To Comment - February 24 [PaEN 

-- DEP Posted 56 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In February 24 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]  

Related Articles This Week - Gas:

-- Penn State Study: Conventional Oil & Gas Wastewater Fails To Meet Beneficial Reuse Recommendations For Use As A Dust Suppressant  [PaEN]

-- DEP: Shell Petrochemical Plant Pays Additional $2,671,044.75 In Civil Penalties For 12-Month Air Quality Violations After May 2023 Consent Order  [PaEN] 

-- Western PA Residents Comment After A Year Of Shell Petrochemical Plant Operations  [PaEN] 

-- Citizen Complaint Leads DEP To Breakout Of Mariner East Pipeline Drilling Mud That Contaminated The Lake At Marsh Creek State Park, Chester County; Sunoco Pipeline Starts Cleanup [PaEN] 

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

-- PUC Adopts Final Regulations Strengthening Operation, Construction Requirements For Intrastate Hazardous Liquids Pipelines  [PaEN]

-- DEP Issues Chapter 105 Permit Correcting Violations By PA General Energy In Constructing The Shawnee Water Intake On The Exceptional Value Loyalsock Creek, Lycoming County [PaEN] 

-- Protect PT Hosts Feb. 27 Online Lunch & Learn With Laurie Barr About Abandoned Oil & Gas Wells  [PaEN] 

-- PJM, Electric Grid Operators Recommend Additional Steps To Overcome Vulnerabilities In Natural Gas Infrastructure To Ensure More Reliable Grid Operation  [PaEN] 

[Posted: February 24, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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