West Virginia

December 18, 2013

Marcellus Shale drilling becomes more efficient

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 15, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

When David Dewberry landed in Pennsylvania in 2010, the veteran of the migratory worldwide oil-and-gas workforce said he required more than a month to drill a typical Marcellus Shale natural gas well.

On Dec. 4, a crew under Dewberry’s direction dug into the mountaintop of a state forest near here with a diamond-studded drill bit. Dewberry reckons it will require only 16 days to finish drilling the well’s full length, more than 21/2 miles.

“Since I came up here three years ago, it’s 200 percent better,” said Dewberry, who manages this Lycoming County site in Loyalsock State Forest for Seneca Resources Corp.

The well not only will require half the time to drill, the bore will extend farther horizontally than older wells. And, if it performs like other wells in the area, it will produce a staggering amount of gas.

When it’s done, the towering rig will crawl 20 feet and begin drilling another well. Seneca plans to complete nine wells in an assembly-line fashion on this site, which is the size of five football fields.

“We’ve become so much more efficient,” Dewberry said.

Marcellus Shale exploration companies are drilling bigger wells in less time at less cost, and they are producing more natural gas than ever in Pennsylvania.…

December 10, 2013

New Rule in WV Regarding Fracking Waste

Read here about a new rule in West Virginia regarding fracking waste.


October 9, 2013

Ohio will soon authorize fracking wastewater pools

Source: Vindicator (Youngstown, OH), October 7, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Ohio regulators will soon approve and permit large, exposed centralized impoundments that hold fracking flowback water.

These are used widely by oil and gas companies in other states to recycle the waste and serve multiple wells near one another .

The impoundments, or pits, which sometimes exceed the size of a football field and can hold millions of gallons of water, are now banned in Ohio.

But they’ve proved a useful asset to companies operating in other states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The impoundments serve as water-transfer stations for multiple wells nearby, greatly reducing the amount of truck traffic and the water necessary to drill and frack those wells.

Existing Ohio regulations permit use of lined impoundments that hold freshwater for drilling. Flowback, or fracking wastewater, however, must be stored above ground in covered steel tanks before disposal or reuse.

But effective Jan. 1, the centralized impoundment pools will be authorized by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as part of a regulatory change state legislators made in the biennial budget bill signed in June.

Changes to the law likely came after input from the industry. Operators consider centralized impoundments a key to further developing the Utica Shale play.…

September 25, 2013

Sites sought for region's fracking residue

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, September 23, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Battelle scientists are leading a search for sites where companies can pump fracking waste underground in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The two-year project, funded by a $1.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, is a response to the growing amount of polluted wastewater that bubbles out of fracked shale wells. Millions of barrels of the waste are pumped into disposal wells, many of which are in Ohio.

With more drilling and fracking expected, oil and gas companies will need to find the best locations to safely inject more waste, said Neeraj Gupta, senior research leader for Battelle’s subsurface-resources group.

“That’s one of our objectives. Where is the injection capacity?” Gupta said.

Right now, it’s in Ohio, where more than 14.2 million barrels of fracking fluids and related waste from oil and gas wells were pumped into 190 disposal wells last year. That was a 12 percent increase over 2011.

Much of the waste — 8.16 million barrels last year — came from Pennsylvania, which has seven active disposal wells. West Virginia has 63 disposal wells.

The fracking process pumps millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals underground to shatter shale and free its trapped oil and gas. Some of the fluid bubbles back up, along with ancient saltwater that contains toxic metals and radium.

Environmental advocates say they worry that old, poorly maintained disposal wells will leak pollutants to groundwater.…

July 25, 2013

XTO settles federal water pollution charges in Pennsylvania

Source: Oil & Gas Journal, July 19, 2013
By: Nick Snow

ExxonMobil Corp. subsidiary XTO Energy Inc. agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and to spend $20 million to improve wastewater management practices in Pennsylvania and West Virginia natural gas operations.

The agreement came in a settlement of federal water pollution charges, the US Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced.

A consent decree, filed in federal court for Pennsylvania’s Middle District, is subject to a 30-day comment period and court approval.

The charges stemmed from a discharge discovered by a Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection (PADEP) inspector’s visit to XTO’s Penn Township plant, where he observed wastewater spilling from an open valve from a series of interconnected tanks.

At the time, XTO stored wastewater from oil and gas activities throughout Pennsylvania at its Penn Township facility, DOJ and EPA said.

Pollutants were found in a Susquehanna River basin tributary. EPA, in consultation with PADEP, determined wastewater stored in the Penn Township facility’s tanks contained the same variety of pollutants, including chlorides, barium, strontium, and total dissolved solids, that were found in those surface waters.…

July 2, 2013

OH Fracking Waste Disposal Increasing

Read here about the increase of fracking waste in Ohio resulting from the shale gas and oil drilling process.…

June 4, 2013

Mines polluting WV waterways

Read here about mining sites in West Virginia that environmental activists say are polluting waterways.


April 17, 2013

N.C. group discusses environmental issues related to fracking

Source: The Fayetteville Observer (NC), April 13, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The state Mining and Energy Commission will look at how the state’s open record laws apply to chemical mixtures that oil and gas companies consider trade secrets, the head of the commission said Friday.

Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack serves as chairman of the commission, which is writing rules for oil and natural gas exploration in North Carolina. Its work has focused on fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of horizontal drilling that uses chemicals, sand and water to fracture rock formations and release natural gas.

Scientists think that prehistoric rock formations beneath Lee and nearby counties may contain large deposits of natural gas.

Fracking opponents are concerned about potential harm to people and the environment. Supporters think it can be done safely and will bring economic help to the region.

Environmental concerns were discussed Friday at the commission’s Local Government Regulation Study Group. The group agreed to look at existing state environmental laws before deciding how they should be revised for gas exploration.

The commission now has six committees and three study groups looking at various issues related to oil and natural gas exploration. The commission is expected to finish its work by October 2014.…

March 1, 2013

Fracking liability suits will be followed by insurance coverage disputes

Source: Business Insurance, February 24, 2013
By: Douglas McLeod

Insurance coverage disputes are bound to follow fracking liability suits, including arguments over the scope of pollution exclusions in general liability policies, lawyers say.

Along with operators extra expense policies, which cover cleanup costs from a well blowout, general liability policies also cover “sudden and accidental” pollution if discharges are discovered and reported within certain time limits — for example, discovery within 30 days and reporting to underwriters within 90 days.

Intended to exclude gradual seepage claims, such limits already have figured in what may be the first fracking-related coverage battle, a case between Ace American Insurance Co. and Warren Drilling Co. Inc. of Dexter City, Ohio, that was settled last month.

Warren alleged that it found out about drinking water contamination at a West Virginia site when it was sued by a property owner in 2010, two years after the property owner had complained to the well’s owner and operator, a unit of Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp., which had hired Warren. Ace denied coverage, saying that Warren missed the 30-day discovery/90-day reporting limits of its GL policy.

Warren paid $40,000 to settle the underlying liability claim last year after incurring $155,091 in defense and expert witness costs, according to its filings in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio.

Ace declined to comment on the terms of its settlement with Warren, and Warren officials could not be reached.

Warren is still suing EQT for indemnity under its drilling contract.


January 14, 2013

Risks remain at coal slurry ponds

Read here about risks that remain at West Virginia coal slurry ponds.