Investigation of PA Fracking Accident Cites Untrained Personnel

Last month’s blowout at a Pennsylvania hydraulic fracturing operation was the result of untrained personnel and a failure to use proper procedure, according to an investigation by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“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,” DEP Secretary John Hanger said in a statement.

That accident occurred June 3 and 4 at a well site operated by Houston-based EOG Resources Inc. about 100 miles north of Pittsburgh. At the time, a service rig operated by a contractor was in the final stages of completing the well and bringing it into production. The EOG well was one of four located on the same drilling pad at a hunting club in Lawrence Township, near Moshannon State Forest. No one was injured in the Pennsylvania blowout, but 35,000 gallons of drilling fluids were released before it was contained the following afternoon.

EOG and its contractor, C.C. Forbes LLC, were banned from conducting well completion for 40 days after the accident. They have since been fined a total of $400,000.

EOG and C.C. Forbes are now permitted to resume well completion. EOG Resources has been ordered to take nine corrective actions; C.C. Forbes ordered to take six corrective actions.

In light of the investigation’s findings, Hanger said his agency has written each company drilling into the Marcellus Shale to ensure they understand proper well construction and emergency notification procedures.

There are about 1,500 Marcellus Shale gas wells in Pennsylvania currently and industry officials predict an additional 35,000 to 50,000 by 2030. The Marcellus Shale region is a formation rich in natural gas that lies beneath parts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Maryland.

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