Pennsylvania drillers fined $375,000 over methane leaks

Researcher testing the water quality
Source: DollarPhotoClub

Three natural gas drillers have been fined a combined figure of close to $375,000 for methane migration violations that impacted a total of 13 private water wells, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced yesterday. The violations occured in Bradford, Lycoming, and Tioga counties, Pennsylvania and date back to between May 2011 and June 2012.

DEP Director of District Oil and Gas Operations, John Ryder, said “These were complex and lengthy investigations that took a considerable amount of time to resolve, but the department was able to conclusively determine that methane gas from natural gas wells had migrated off-site and impacted private wells serving homes and hunting clubs”. No comment was made on why the investigations took so long.

XTO Energy were fined $95,753 for methane migration in Little Muncy Creek and German Run, in Lycoming County, which affected seven private water wells. The incident was first brought to light by a citizen complaint on May 17, 2011, and was found to be caused by casing and cementing issues at XTO’s Moser and Tome gas wells.

The largets of the fines, $193,135, was incured by Chesapeake Appalachia LLC for surface expressions of methane in 14 locations within the Towanda Creek watershed, in Bradford County, which impacted four private water wells on May 19, 2012. This was caused by casing issues at Chesapeake’s Morse gas well.

Finaly, SWEPI LP was fined $85,593 for migration in the French Lick Run, in Tioga County, where pressurised water was discharging upto 40 feet into the air, two hunting club water wells were affected. This event occured on June 17, 2012, and was caused by communication between an old abandoned gas well and one or more of SWEPI’s gas wells on its Cochran, Guindon, and/or Yaggie well pads.

All three cases included violations of the 2012 Oil and Gas Act, Clean Streams Law, and DEP’s Chapter 78 regulations. The DEP confirmed that the affected water wells had either been replaced, treated or returned to their original conditions.

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