Independent Report Faults Clearfield County Gas Well Operators for June 3 Blowout
DEP Outlines Proper Procedures for all Marcellus Drilling Firms
DEP Secretary Says Blowout ‘Could Have Been a Catastrophic Incident’
DEP Secretary John Hanger said the blowout, which allowed natural gas and wastewater to escape from the well uncontrollably for 16 hours, was the result of failures by the well’s operator, EOG Resources. The company and its contractor, C.C. Forbes LLC, lost control of the well while performing post-fracturing well cleanout activities.
“The blowout in Clearfield County was caused by EOG Resources and its failure to have proper barriers in place. This incident was preventable and should never have occurred,” said Hanger, who added that EOG Resources has been ordered to take nine corrective actions; C.C. Forbes ordered to take six corrective actions and both companies were fined more than $400,000, collectively.
Following a 40-day suspension of operations in Pennsylvania, EOG Resources and C.C. Forbes were permitted to resume all well completion activities. EOG Resources, formerly known as Enron Oil & Gas Co., operates approximately 297 active wells in Pennsylvania, 139 of which are in the Marcellus Shale formation.
The report was compiled by John Vittitow, whom DEP hired to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into all aspects of EOG’s drilling operation based on his respected reputation in the industry as an experienced petroleum engineer. The investigation was conducted alongside, but independently of, DEP’s investigation.
“Make no mistake, this could have been a catastrophic incident,” Hanger said. “Had the gas blowing out of this well ignited, the human cost would have been tragic, and had an explosion allowed this well to discharge wastewater for days or weeks, the environmental damage would have been significant.” more…