Drilling activity resumes at site of August gas well explosion
October 2, 2012 ·
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has allowed drilling to resume at the site of a gas well explosion in August. The operator is required to give the agency more data on the site.
The DEP is allowing Antero Resources, of Denver, the operator of the well, to resume vertical drilling at the Marcellus Shale well in Harrison County. But the company isn’t doing horizontal drilling work at the moment, because a new rig must be brought in to do that.
In August, a fire occurred at the Cottrill No. 3 Well, injuring three workers and inflicting substantial damage to the drilling rig.
DEP spokesman Tom Aluise says the company is also required to gather data on five residential water wells, within two thousand feet of the well.
"Four of the wells had pre-drill analysis because they were within 1,500 feet of the pad. Under the new legislation that was passed in December, for horizontal wells, any residential wells that are 1,500 feet from the pad must have pre-drill analysis done," Aluise said.
"So four of these wells that Antero has on their monitoring plan actually have baseline numbers to compare to. The fifth well is within 2,000 feet, that is part of this most recent order that we issued to Antero, but they did not have a pre-drill analysis."
The company is testing for Total Dissolved Solids, or TDS, as well as a plethora of other compounds including aluminum, iron and arsenic.
The DEP previously issued an order of violation to Antero because of the incident.
Something caused methane to ignite as the rig was being removed from the well in August.
"We initially said an unknown ignition source caused the methane to ignite, and we never could pinpoint that, and we don’t expect to know," he said.
In light of the violation, a monetary amount may also have to be paid by Antero to the DEP. But Aluise says that’s not decided yet.
"That’s a possibility, as a settlement of the order that we issued. We haven’t got to that part of the process yet. Sometimes it can be a matter of weeks, sometimes a matter of months," he said.
While Antero Resources is the operator of the well, Hall Drilling, of Ellenboro, was contracted to do the gas drilling there. The three injured workers were employees of Hall Drilling.